Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has gotten yet another approval from the state House of Assembly for a N25 billion loan, few months to the end of his tenure.
The approval was given despite the outrage that greeted his decision in April to obtain N150 billion loan.
Recall that in April, the state assembly led by Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, his loyalist, who emerged governorship candidate of the PDP for the state election, approved N150 billion ‘bridging finance facility’ requested by the governor.
Atlhough the governor had said that part of the loan would be tailored toward taking care of outstanding pension commitments to the state and local government areas in the contributory pension scheme, amounting to N20 billion and N10 billion, respectively, sources revealed that a larger chunk of the loan would be used to prosecute Oborevwori’s governorship campaign.
The approval had attracted condemnations by many stakeholders of the state, including the deputy senate president and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Ovie Omo-Agege, who accused the governor of indulging in massive corruption.
The senator who reacted to the development in a statement titled “The N150 Billion So-called Loan Looks Too Corrupt To Be Ignored,” signed by his aide, Aruviere Martin Egharhevwa, accused the Okowa of plunging the state into avoidable debt trap.
This huge loan, so-called, is not tied to any specific major strategic developmental project thoughtfully conceived and executed in the best interest of Deltans.
Given Delta’s distinct comparative financial advantage compared to many states of the federation on account of its huge monthly oil derivation funds, Deltans deserve to know the compelling justification to hastily borrow a whopping N150 billion under the pretext of paying for contracts that the Okowa administration regularly claims it duly awarded, with funding guarantees. Strikingly, the so-called projects are all unknown to the public.
Why is the Okowa regime borrowing hastily against anticipated ‘petroleum subsidy payment’/‘refund’ with indeterminate crystalisation time? Are they not wetting the ground for the next administration to contend with huge debts unnecessarily?
Knowing that the repayment funds may not even crystalise till maybe 2027/2028, why is the regime doing this? As suggested by some commentators, is the N150 billion a 2023 ‘election war chest’? If true, we can only advise a rethink because it will fail with serious consequences. As reported, after about seven years of neglecting the all-important duty of diligently settling pension commitments to our senior citizens, the Okowa regime now suddenly wishes to pay them from this so-called loan.
Because these citizens are entitled to their pensions, they deserve to and must be paid their pensions, anyhow. However, the regime’s choice to pay them from an unusual source and close to the 2023 general elections is not lost on discerning minds, including our seniors.
Whatever the intentions are, they will be clinically shut down at the right time. We also believe such borrowing must be responsible, and not recklessly propelled by corruption and primitive private interests. It should not be all about sinking many generations into intractable debts in the hope of achieving impossible electoral postulations.
Without question, the N150 billion loan approved by the House of Assembly is an escalation of a very corrupt pattern of reckless borrowing by the Okowa administration to fund mystery projects or what Deltans now generally refer to as ‘audio’ or invisible projects.
Meanwhile, the new N25 billion loan, according to the governor, will be used to boost the state’s palm plantation.
However, many suggest that the governor who is pushing to be Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate’s running mate, could be accumulating funds for election campaign ahead of 2023 polls.