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13 New Governors Borrowed N226.8bn In Six Months – DMO

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IN the first six months after taking office, 13 new state governors collectively borrowed N226.8bn from domestic and external financiers.

This emerged as findings by this newspaper showed that 16 state governors also increased the debt profile of their states by N509.3bn with domestic and external debt of N243.

95bn and $298.5m (N265.37bn), respectively.

The external debt was calculated based on the exchange rate of N889/$ used by the Debt Management Office in its report.

This is according to an analysis of the latest sub-national debt reports released by the DMO.

The sub-national debts are classified into domestic borrowings from local creditors and external borrowings from international creditors like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The domestic and external debts published on the DMO’s website were as of December 30 and June 30, 2023, respectively.

The states, which include Benue, Cross Rivers, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Zamfara, and the Federal Capital Territory, got N115.57bn from domestic creditors, while governors of Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara states borrowed $125.1m (N111.24bn) from external sources.

For the sub-nationals, a further breakdown of the data showed that Cross Rivers Governor, Bassey Otu, took the highest loan, with N16.2bn from domestic and $57.95m from foreign creditors between June and December 2023.

Katsina State followed with the debt surging by N36.93bn from N62.37bn to N99.3bn by December 2023.

Third on the list is Niger State, with a domestic debt of N17.85bn, surging from N121.95bn in June 2023 to N139.8bn by December of the same year.

Plateau got N16.32bn; Rivers borrowed N7.07bn; Zamfara, N14.26bn; and the FCT under the leadership of Nyesom Wike borrowed N6.75bn from domestic creditors.

For foreign debt, Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State accumulated external debt of $37.54m, while Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State borrowed $17.69m from external financiers.

Similarly, the governors of Kano borrowed $6.6m; Niger, $1.27m; Plateau, $831,008; Sokoto, $499,472; Taraba, $1.51m; and Zamfara, $655,563, from external sources.

Despite declarations by the administration of President Bola Tinubu that it would not continue with the massive borrowings of the previous government to fund its expenditures, the latest developments show that the new government is sticking to the controversial policy amidst increased revenue.

In 2023, state governors got the most Federal Account Allocation Committee allocations in at least seven years. The rise in FAAC allocations to the three tiers of government, especially the states, followed the removal of subsidy on petrol and currency reforms by the Tinubu administration. The reforms have reportedly led to a 40 per cent boost in income.

An analysis of the 2023 FAAC monthly allocations revealed that the sub-national and local government councils got the highest allocation of N627.73bn in September, followed by N610.5bn in December, N555.75bn in August, N533bn in November, N514bn in July and N497.97bn in October.

NEWS

14 Die, 13 Injured in Kogi Auto Crash

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At least 14 persons died in a head-on coalition involving two Toyota buses on Sunday in Kogi.

Thirteen persons survived in the accident which occurred at Aloma community in Ofu Local Government Area of the state.

An eyewitness said that the accident involved a Toyota Sienna bus heading toward Abuja from Port Harcourt and a Toyota Hiace bus heading to the southern part of the country.

“Thirteen persons, including the driver of the Hiace bus were completely roasted by the fire that engulfed the bus immediately after the head-on coalition.

“One of the four surviving persons in the bus died in hospital from burns suffered bringing the number to 14 that died,’’ he said.

According to him, none of the 10 occupants of the Sienna Bus died, but were badly wounded and receiving treatment in a hospital.

He commended the villagers who quickly came to the scene of the accident and rescued the injured.

“It is because of their timely intervention that the Sienna bus did not get burnt as well,’’ he said.

The eyewitness blamed the accident on speeding and potholes on the road and added that it took rescuers three hours to remove the driver of the Sienna bus, whose two legs were badly damaged.

Contacted, the Kogi Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Samuel Oyedeji, confirmed the accident. (NAN)

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Disability Act: Stakeholders Worry Over Delayed Domestication in Benue

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By David Torough, Abuja

Stakeholders have expressed concern over delay in the domestication of Disability Act in Benue state and called on government to expedite passage of the law in the state.

At the stakeholders’ consultative meeting to domesticate the disability law in the state held Tuesday in Makurdi in collaboration with Inclusive friends Association (IFA), Hope Alive for Possibilities Initiative (HAPI) and JONAPWD, the Director General, Bureau for International Cooperation and Development, Dr Leonard Viashima, represented by the Technical Adviser on Bureau for International Cooperation and Development, John Akuse, however said governor Alia’s administration was willing to domesticate the law in the state.

In his address, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Disability Affairs, Bem Anshe, who doubles as the chairman of JONAPWD, stressed the need for the domestication of the law in Benue, saying it would facilitate the inclusion of people with disability in governance.

Anshe decried the non-passage of the law in the state, lamenting that Benue was the only state in the North Central yet to domesticate it.

In her remarks, the Executive Director of IFA, Grace Jerry, represented by the Programme Manager of IFA, Stephen Idoko, noted that despite the challenges, she was confident that the forum would achieve its objective if all worked together.

She noted that the presence of stakeholders in the meeting reaffirmed the collective commitment to making a lasting impact on the lives of persons with disabilities in the state.

On her part, Prof. Christy Anyogo from IFA expressed hope that Benue would soon join the league of states that have domesticated the disability law, saying governor Hyacinth Alia never looks back on whatever he wants to do.

The consultative forum was attended by stakeholders from the state ministry of Women Affairs, ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, traditional rulers, religious leaders, social investment programme agency, Albinism association of Nigeria, leprosy survivors and spinal cord injury.

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Enugu Embarks on Inspection of Smart Schools, Healthcare Projects Across State

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From Sylvia Udegbunam, Enugu

Governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah has charged contractors and the site engineers handling construction of the 260 smart schools and 260 Type-2 Primary Health facilities in the 260 wards of the state on the delivery of world-class projects that would stand the test of time.

Governor Mbah enjoined them to deploy quality materials and build according to specifications, warning that any sharp practices would attract stiff sanctions and rejection by the government.
He equally underscored the need for contractors to deliver their projects on schedule as stipulated in their terms of contract.The governor spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Chidiebere Onyia, during an inspection tour of ongoing projects in Ezeagu LGA on Wednesday.
He said the purpose of the inspection by the project’s monitoring team, which also comprises the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr Gerald Otiji; Commissioner for Education, Prof Nwabueze Mbah; Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Hon. Chris Robert Ozongwu; Chairman of the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), Dr. Gabriel Ajah; Special Adviser to the Governor on Projects Development and Implementation, Uche Nwatu, among others, was to ensure the quality and integrity of the projects, from start to finish.”We met with the contractors and their site engineers in all the sites we’ve visited. This is to ensure that there is no variation in the work specification, and that the quality of the materials they are using, starting from the foundation to completion, could guarantee the integrity and structural tests of these projects.”What His Excellency is setting out to achieve here is to make sure that we did not run the three risks that we know that are eminent in every construction, considering that a time will come in Enugu State when we will have almost five hundred live projects – smart schools, primary healthcare facilities – in all the 260 wards, in addition to the roads constructions that are going on across the board. So, we are building a very strong monitoring team that will address the quality aspect of it.”We are also taking into consideration the cost risk that comes when the time risk begins to happen, because, once we miss the timeline, the next is that we begin to discuss variation. So, this team here is to ensure that all risks are evaluated and compliance is strictly adhered to.”We are also working on engaging with the local stakeholders to ensure the security of the process here. So, that will help us address issues around theft of materials we brought to the site. But more importantly is that at the end of each project there will be sustainability and that these stakeholders will take ownership of these schools and other projects in their communities.”So, it is not just about monitoring, but also about building on all the key facets that will make sure that these projects achieve the objectives to have smart children and smart teachers coming out of our local governments and a smart workforce for the state,” Prof Onyia stated.That’s why we have accommodation for them and we are also going to ensure that Enugu generally has a smart workforce. That’s why we are here”.He allayed the fears over the culture of abandoned projects by various strata of the government, saying that the allocation of 33 per cent of the entire 2024 budget to education has guaranteed the start, completions, and handover of the smart school projects on schedule.On his part, Chairman of ENSUBEB, Dr. Ajah, said they were happy with the quality of work so far, adding that contractors were complying with specifications and corrections were immediately effected wherever there were gaps.Admonishing communities to take ownership of the projects, he urged them to see the facilities as their own by ensuring the security of the projects.”Security is everybody’s business. The people are happy. The government has never come to the people at ward level like this before now. So, I am calling on our people to protect these projects from vandals by taking charge and ownership of them”, he concluded.

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