• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Nasarawa debt profile rises to over N50 bn

Nasarawa recalls suspended local council staff as investigation still on

In what could be likened as a contradiction to the debt profile of Nasarawa State, which generated reaction and counter-reactions between Governor Abdullahi Sule and his predecessor, Senator Umar Tanko Almakura, a fresh fact over the financial position of the state finally emerged.

It was reported in one of the National Dailies in late 2019, not BusinessDay that, Al-makura left a debt of over N18 billion as an inheritance to Governor Abdullahi Sule.

It was a cold war amidst several claims that nearly pin and exposes Al-makura’s government, should Sule went ahead with the call for prove.

The State Commissioner of Finance, Budget and Planning, Haruna Adamu Ogbole disclosed that the sum of over Fifty billion naira (50bn) has been inherited from the previous administration of Senator Umar Tanko Almakura.

The finance Commissioner who was speaking during the breakdown of 2021 Budget said that, following concerns by the government over the debt and the plight of those indebted to, the governor has earmarked N7bn in this year’s budget to commence the liquidation of the outstanding debt of the state.

It would be recalled that Seven months into office as Governor in 2019, Sule raised the alarm that he inherited a huge debt from the previous administration that is affecting the smooth running of his government.

Then, the governor explained that tough times await the people of the state next year as revenue accruing to the state keep dwindling.

He regretted that huge sums of money was being deducted at source monthly by the federal government as the bailout, budget support facility and infrastructure loan the previous government took.

But the immediate past government under Umaru Tanko Al-Makura received N8.9bn bailout from the federal government in September 2015.

Read Also: Nigeria saves N18.3bn from T-bills interest payment as lower yields crash debt cost

The same Al-Makura government took another loan from the federal government to the tune of about N800m to pay salaries and another N10bn loan from excess crude account to develop infrastructures in the state.

Al-Makura who clarified the debt status of the state two months to hand over in 2019, said he was not leaving behind any debt for the new government of Abdullahi Sule.

The former governor who is now a senator representing Nasarawa south had said that he inherited N40bn debt on the assumption of office in 2011 but has cleared all the debt he inherited from the past administration.

According to him “The Sule administration will take off on a clean slate as all the debts owed by the state have been cleared, noting that all the loans he took to execute capital projects had been paid off in addition to clearing N40bn debt inherited”.

Governor Sule in the other hand expressed worries that the deductions of this three different loans are coming at the time he is committed to paying 100% salaries and pensions as well as the implementations promotions arrears and the N30,000 minimum wage.

According to him ” The way things are going, the revenue Nasarawa will get next year will be worse than what we will get from the federation account this year.

“The reason is that the previous government took budget support facility to the tune of about N800m and the whole idea was to pay salaries, in 2015 the state took another loan called bailout and there was another N10bn loan from the excess crude account.

“So at the end of the day, we have three facilities that were taken, we are paying them back now starting from September 2019 and it will continue, that is why I said let us face realities, the revenue coming in will be lower and there are deductions already,” he said

The Governor explained that governing the state at the moment required enormous sacrifice, noting that he has developed a template to cut down the cost of governance to the barest minimum.

This development generated internal wrangling between the dou over alleged media report of over N18 billion debt left behind by Senator Al-makura.

It took the interventions of some elites within and outside the state including traditional rulers to settle the two.

They, however, met in Abuja in a joint press briefing, where they denied rumours of a rift between them over alleged inherited debt.

Sule, therefore, urged Al-Makura not to pay attention to media reports to the effect that an alleged over N18 billion debt by the immediate past administration was impeding governance in the state.

“At no time have I stated there was a debt of over N18 billion taken by Gov. Umaru Al-Makura and that it had stopped the running of government.

“For clarification, I mentioned to stakeholders during the recent retreat for public office holders that we should all tighten our belts given the expenses ahead and the reduction in revenue accruing to the state from the Federation Account.

“I mentioned the need for us to all wake-up and improve on our revenue base to continue to prosper as a state.

“I mentioned that currently, we are having some deductions from our allocation due to the federal government intervention such as the bailout, which is not peculiar to Nasarawa State,” the governor said.

While the matter was believed to have been forgotten, a fresh fact recently pulps up a bit higher than the former, alleging that the state is indebted with over N50 billion naira.

Ogbole, while noting that the 2021 budget of N115,722,814,343.00 was signed into law on December 30, 2020, added that Education gets the highest allocation.

According to him, the sectorial allocation in percentages sees Education having 30, Infrastructure 14.5, Governance 12.9, Finance, investment 11.3, Health 10.4, Agriculture 5.9, Law and Justice 3.7, Legislation 3.0 and Environment 2.8 respectively.

The commissioner said this year’s budget is tagged “Budget of economic recuperation” assuring that the government will ensure strict implementation of the programmes and projects as contained in the budget.

According to Ogbole, the budget is to be funded from the following sources: Federation account statutory revenue allocation of N37bn, VAT 15bn, Exchange gain 2.1 billion and special allocation 3bn respectively.

“Internally generated revenue is estimated at 26.43; Aids and grants 16.28 and Deficit financing borrowing 14.46 billion,” he said.

He explained further that expenditure estimate for the year under revenue is, recurrent is N53,874,156,817.00 or 46.55 percent while capital expenditure is N54,830,925,495.00 or 47.38 percent and consolidated revenue fund charges is N7,017,732,031.00 or 6.21 percent.