Current Financial Inflows make it Hard for States to Survive, Laments Ambode

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By Tobi Soniyi in  Abuja

Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, has said that governors were finding it difficult to run their states at the current financial inflows in the country.

Ambode, who spoke with State House Correspondents in Abuja said he was at Presidential Villa to thank President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of Lagos State and the people of the state on the outcome of his visit to China.

He maintained that the cash crunch that hit the country had made it imperative for state governors to devise means of survival which include their demand for moratorium on the payment of their debts.

Asked for his comments on the demand by states for moratorium on their debt, Ambode said: “There is nothing wrong in asking for moratorium. Lagos State has just restructured its bond programme. It is about financial intelligence.

“The states are not saying they are not going to pay back. We are saying that based on the present circumstances, we can hold down principal payments and just take interest.

“Maybe for a while, let us also ask for moratorium to be able to pay principal at a future date. The issue is that you cannot operate a state in the manner in which the financial inflows are coming now. It is very difficult. We have to be realistic.

“It is like any other organisation. If the inflows are not up to what the fixed costs are like, you have to do something drastic and that is what we are all doing.

“I am an accountant first before being a politician. You need to see the numbers. The numbers do not tally.

“It has nothing to do with the status you are finding yourself now. It is about the past record, it is about the present status and it is about taking drastic decisions to be able to allow the state’s to stay afloat.”

On the purpose of his visit to the president, he said “The reason I am here today is to come and thank the President on behalf of Lagos State and the people of the state on the outcome of his visit to China.

“You will recall that Lagos State is a major beneficiary of that visit. The Lagos metro rail project of about $2.5bn is being signed up by Nigeria and the President.

“The Lagos-Kano rail project and other projects are also there. There are many benefits coming to Lagos State. That is why it is important to come and thank him personally.”

Asked about his views on criticisms against Buhari’s China trip, the Lagos State Governor said  “There is nothing you do in form of policies and programmes that the people will not oppose. What is important is about the majority of people who are going to benefit from it.

For Lagos, we cannot do any other thing than to say ‘thank you’.