The Niger State chapter of the All Progressives Congress on Sunday said it is ready to take to court the Niger State Government led by Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, over the state’s debt burden.
The APC said the total outstanding debt stock of the state amounted to about N36 billion.
The APC, in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jonathan Vatsa, blamed the huge debt hanging on the state and the indifference of the state government to the reckless loans collected over the years by the Aliyu administration.
But in a swift reaction that is contrary to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to Niger State Governor, Israel Ebije, said the present administration has never obtained or contemplated collecting any loan, either foreign or domestic, since its inception in 2007 and the records are there for the people to concern.
Ebije described the allegation by the APC as move by the opposition to create distraction from what he described as lost battle to impress the electorates with meaningful manifesto.
He said: “It is however on record that the government secured infrastructural bond from the capital market which is being utilized for the purpose of development.
“This was done through the approval of the State Executive Council and all the projects which the bond was utilized for are there for the people to see.”
The APC spokesman however threatened: “The APC is ready to challenge the state government led by the Governor Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu to public court on what the loans collected were used to Finance. We will continue to expose the dangers of allowing the loan and Bond collection to continue beyond May 2015.
“We are ready to challenge Babangida Aliyu to any public court on what the loans collected were used to Finance, because the burden is too heavy to carry silently without questions, because besides the Commercial term loans the Government has also gone to the capital market to collect several Bonds with outstanding Debt stock by the end of 2014 standing at N16,347,232,682.81.
“The total outstanding debt stock of about N36 billion hanging on the state by the end of 2014. We challenge the Debt Management office of the state to come out with the state debt stock.”
Ebije, while saying the APC plans to hoodwink the electorate with bogus debt claims to get their attention, disclosed that he had dared the opposition to present documents to support their claims but they have failed to present facts.
He added: “The administration of Governor Aliyu is ready for a public debate but unfortunately APC chickened out, even when governorship candidates of all contesting political party’s were invited for debate.”
Vatsa however hinted: “The APC make bold to tell Nigerlites that in September 2013 the government collected N1 billion loan, in February 2014, a loan of N2.68 billion loan was collected, in June 2014 another N2 billion loan was collected, and in October 2014 another N2 billion loan was collected summing up to over N5.4 billion commercial bank loans hanging heavily on the state.”
While the governor’s spokesman said the Niger State APC has nothing to offer the state, he urged the electorates to demand for manifesto, adding: “The APC candidates of the opposition are only leveraging on the ‘Buhari’ factor to get elected. They have nothing to offer hence the campaign of calumny and acts of political brigandage.”
Disclosing further, Vatsa said: “The state has balance of outstanding external debt amounting to N4.6 billion, apart from the stinky commercial loan taken within 12 months and the huge state and local government pension arrears that is put at N2.3 billion and N7.17 billion respectively.
“The sorry State continued with the Commercial term loans which is N5,462,217,817.38 taken from two commercial bank all between 2013 and the end of 2014; and the amounts stated above bring the total outstanding debt stock of loan to about N36 billion hanging on the state by the end of 2014.”
The governor’s spokesman said Niger State is one of the few in the country that has consistently paid workers salaries, pension and gratuity, and also that the administration of Dr. Aliyu has diversified the state economic stake to agriculture long before the pressure of oil glut hit the country economic fortunes, a feat he said has set the tune for harnessing agriculture potentials in the country.
The APC spokesman added: “The present Government in the state has collected more revenue from the Federation account statutory than any government ever in Niger state. Nigerlites should therefore ask the government what would have warranted the collection of huge loans and bonds by the government.”
Ebije explained: “It is important to draw the attention of the opposition party to the fact that they have failed to present the people with any meaningful manifesto since the electioneering period. All what they have been able to achieve is character assassination and physical attacks on supporters of Niger PDP.
“It is indeed disturbing to find Niger State opposition bugged down on errand of cheap blackmail, clueless propaganda and rudderless political agenda when other states are experiencing vibrant issue based political campaigns. It is indeed time electorates must ask them for their own plan for the state. People are already tired of the lies.”