Emmanuel wants to restructure Akwa Ibom’s debts
CITING the need to restore fiscal stability in the face of dwindling revenue, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has written the House of Assembly seeking clearance to restructure the state’s debts.
In the letter addressed to the Speaker titled, “Restructuring of Commercial Banks’ Loans of Akwa Ibom State Government into Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds,” the governor said the measure would facilitate fiscal stability and provide avenue to liquidate the huge debt stock for a period of 25 years.
“In order for Akwa Ibom State to join other states of the federation and take advantage of this initiative, it becomes necessary for the state to partner with the Debt Management office (DMO) of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance in this direction to utilise the benefits.
“Under the framework, the short-term bank loans of the state will be restructured into FGN bonds with tenors of between 15 and 20 years, reduction in the monthly debt service burden of the state, thereby freeing up resources for meeting other pressing financial obligations,” the governor stressed.
It is learnt that since his ascension to power on May 29 this year, Governor Emmanuel has refused to disclose what his predecessor left behind in his handover note as income and
expenditure profile of the state.
Curiously too, the report submitted by the transition committee set up by the governor to take stock of the assets and liabilities of the state is yet to be made public.
Reacting to the development, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) says the move was a clear evidence of gross failure of governance in the state and indiscriminate wastage of public funds by the immediate past administration of Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Its facilitator, Inibehe Effiong, noted that the letter was a tacit admission that the state was in a financial quagmire, regretting that the governor did not state in his correspondence the exact amount being owed banks.
“This we believe is willful and deliberate. It is a continuation of the culture of running government like a secret cult without any modicum of regard to the dictates of transparency, accountability and good governance.
“It is common knowledge that Mr. Akpabio had obtained huge loans from banks to service his insatiable escapades and primitive ostentation and profligate lifestyle at the peril of the state. It is on record that recently, Diamond Bank Plc, one of the banks that the state is indebted to, published a bad loan of N5.8 billion obtained by Mr. Akpabio,” Effiong stated.
Efforts to reach the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Akan Okon for comments were unsuccessful, as he was said to be out of town.