By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin
Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has accused the former Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Igbinedion of diverting N4 billion bank loan in connivance with then Secretary to the State Government and PDP gubernatorial candidate, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Peter Okhiria, Governor Oshiomhole said: “our attention has been drawn to the lies peddled by one Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the debt profile of Edo State.
“We make bold to state, and the facts are clear, that in spite of earning the highest revenues from the Federation Account, the PDP states in the South-South region are the most indebted in the region and not Edo State.
“The domestic debt profile released by the DMO as at December 31, 2015, the last time it was issued, lists Delta State as having a debt profile of N320,605 billion; Akwa Ibom had N147,575 billion; Cross River: N115,522 billion; Rivers, N134,9566 billion; Bayelsa N103,374 billion as against Edo which had a far lower profile. While the other South-South PDP States have continued to amass domestic debts with high-interest rates, Edo is close to completely liquidating its domestic debt.
“While Ize-Iyamu continues to peddle his falsehood, we have the record of the N4 billion borrowed by the PDP government of Mr Lucky Igbinedion, with the knowledge of Osagie Ize-Iyamu as Secretary to State Government from Guaranty Trust Bank and Equitorial Trust Bank and paid to an address in Lagos.
“Edo people are not deceived. They know that the PDP and Ize-Iyamu are the ones who have a record of borrowing to steal and not the APC government led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
“Our records are open and we run a transparent government. No amount of planted or concocted stories by hack writers will distort the facts.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, in a statement noted that: “following the declaration by the Debt Management Office that Edo state’s foreign debt profile ranks third among indebted states in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party that plunged Edo state into huge debts has been upbeat, saying they have been vindicated. How wrong? We do not only find PDP’s assertion ridiculous but utterly uninformed.
“First, Edo state was categorised as one of the wealthiest states in the country following our holistic reforms in the area of Internally Generated Revenue, which saw a huge improvement in our Internally Generated Revenue portfolio.
“Secondly, we do not borrow funds to pay salaries like PDP state Governors, especially in the South-South geopolitical zone. Our loans are tied to specific infrastructural development projects aimed at improving the lives of our people. Unlike in the past during the era of the PDP when loans were sourced and shared amongst party chieftains, the present thinking has altered the ugly narrative of pocketing loans; we have built infrastructure in critical sectors of the Edo economy.
“A critical look at the three top states of Lagos, Kaduna and Edo would readily reveal the huge infrastructural developments in those three states. While it has been difficult for PDP states to attract World Bank loans because of the rigorous screening it entails, PDP states in the South-South have been taking loans from Commercial Banks with neck-breaking interest rates. Our foreign loans attract 1% interest rate with a 10-year moratorium. The representatives of the World Bank are not only proud of Edo state for utilising her loans diligently; they have commended the Comrade Governor at different times for applying probity and accountability in the management of Edo resources.
“Through such fiscal assistance from World Bank, we were able to address the Queen Ede erosion menace, Auchi erosion and the Ekenhuan erosion menaces. We have built infrastructure across the length and breadth of the state and are proud to say that our records of performance would remain indelible in the minds of present and future generations of Edo people.
“We are not like the PDP that took loans during their ten years reign and shared amongst their party chieftains. They sucked Edo people to the point that it took the intervention of God and man to get the state back on track. We are certainly not reckless financial suckers like the PDP. We are proud to say that we have applied our loans for the purpose they were meant. It will interest PDP chieftains to note that under the Oshiomhole administration, we have repaid billions of naira loans acquired during the inglorious years of the PDP.”