By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Barnabas Bala Bantex, has apologised over comments he made regarding the rejection of the $350 million World Bank loan request by the state government.
The Senate had rejected the $350 million World Bank loan, saying that the state already had an existing backlog of $231 million debt with a low internally generated revenue (IGR) status, adding that the facility would worsen the debt profile of the state.
The deputy governor, while representing Governor Nasir el-Rufai at the Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barnawa, Kaduna chapter on Monday, had said that the World Bank would not grant loan to any state if Kaduna is not included.
Bantex had also in an interview with journalists after declaring the event opened, said: “The World Bank are bugged with a moral issue. How do we deal with not approving or not giving out a loan for which a state government is fully qualified and approve to others, who I wouldn’t say are less qualified. That is the moral issue facing the World Bank.”
However, in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday, the deputy governor said in trying to highlight the issues surrounding the loan, during the NBA programme, he inadvertently strayed beyond affirming his sense of outrage.
“I wish to clarify statements I made yesterday (Monday) at a ceremony of the Barnawa branch of the NBA, regarding the World Bank loan for Kaduna State.
“As Deputy-Governor of Kaduna State, I am understandably unimpressed by the specious and unbecoming arguments that certain senators employed to deny my state a loan for which the World Bank had adjudged it eminently qualified” Batex said in the statement entitled “Clarification of Statement on World Bank loan.”
He said: “This same Senate passed loan requests for other states, including some that the World Bank has not yet approved.
“I therefore decided to point out the moral burden involved in refusing to endorse a loan request that had been approved for Kaduna State by the World Bank since 20 June 2017.
“If the World Bank’s positive assessment of the finances of a state is deemed irrelevant by the Senate, why would it accept the assessments made of other states by the same bank?”
According to him, “If the House of Representatives endorsed the loan based on the facts before the honourable members, why should the Senate let the frustrations of a few individuals lead them to abandon facts for sentiment?
“In trying to highlight these points, I inadvertently strayed beyond affirming my sense of outrage.
“It is certainly not for me to suggest how the World Bank chooses to relate with the Federal Government of Nigeria and its subnational entities.
“In fact, we do not wish the unfair treatment meted out to us on any other state or entity that is seeking development finance to build human capital and enhance their economic prospects.
“I regret the insinuations that came in off-the-cuff remarks I made after delivering the governor’s prepared text at the NBA event.
“It is neither my view nor that of the Kaduna State Government. These views have already been well articulated by the governor and the commissioner for finance.”