Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, weekend traded words over both the Federal and Lagos State debt profiles.
While the APC challenged the PDP led Federal Government to give Nigerians a detailed explanation on how it piled up N8.8 trillion for the country, the PDP demanded a probe into how the state government disbursed N160 billion loan meant to develop the state.
APC in a statement by its Lagos State Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, commended Governor of the state, Babatunde Raji Fashola, on his detailed explanations about the status of the state’s debt profile, saying every Nigerian should be grateful to Fashola and the APC government in Lagos for utilizing the state’s resources to better the lives of Nigerians when the federal government had become abjectly derelict to its responsibilities.
The party which contended that time has come for Nigerians to demand from their leaders at the federal level what it did with the debt accumulated in recent times, said: “We salute Governor Fashola for his brilliant answer to what was obviously a blackmail from the PDP federal government that has been pilling debts for Nigerians at an alarming rate. Even with the huge accruals the PDP federal government is harnessing, it has once again, run Nigeria into a tricky debt trap after Nigeria’s controversial exit from the debt trap during the Obasanjo regime.
It must interest Nigerians to know that while the publication was making an issue that a viable state like Lagos is owing N160 billion, it wanted to play down the fact that the Federal Government it works for has piled up Nigeria’s debt to N8.8 trillion.
“Lagos has the fifth largest economy in Africa, catering for more than 21 million people and with such gigantic projects like the famous light rail project, the several independent power projects, the Eko Atlantic City, ambitious city roads, gigantic municipal water works, etc.
“Lagos has a reputation as a solid state that has met all its previous debt obligations. Lagos invests in regenerative projects that have contributed not only to make the state productive and viable to all Nigerians but also the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. We challenge the federal government to do a detailed explanation of what it does with the huge debt it had piled up for Nigerians. We want them to let Nigerians know what it does with the 52 per cent it collects from the federation account each month while poverty, unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity, etc have all taken over the country.”
Meanwhile, state chapter of PDP has demanded a probe into how the Lagos State government disbursed N160 billion loan meant to develop the state. The party also faulted Governor Fashola’s attempt to rationalise the use of the said loan saying the argument was “weak, unsatisfactory and diversionary.”
In a statement by its publicity secretary, Mr. Taofik Gani, the party recalled that the Debt Management Office, DMO, recently stated that the Lagos State Government owed N1b out of the total N3billion owed by all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Governor Fashola had in a reaction during his inspection of the protracted light-rail project questioned the DMO’s motive behind the revelation, whilst also claiming to have spent the money on infrastructure such as the ongoing light-rail project.
It said: “we are again vindicated by the DMO revelation on the amount Lagos State is indebted to under Governor Fashola. We had said it many times that Governor Fashola has plunged the State into irreparable economic damage going by his monumental and unprecedented debt profile. The revelation of N160b debt is apart the other local and foreign loans and bonds running into more than N1trillion.”
While calling for probe into the loan, the party said “it is our demand that the governor’s office must explain the details of this needless loan, whilst the EFCC probes the veracity. This is baffling especially considering the fact that the state is not enjoying commensurate development as it lacks in adequate and affordable services and infrastructure.
“It is indeed an afterthought for the governor to claim to have spent the loan on infrastructure. The major infrastructure is the light-rail project and which was presented as public-private Investment. What is, therefore, the amount contributed by the private investor who is eventually taking the concessionaire? This is another government stealing by proxy. No doubt the protracted project has been used as conduit to steal Lagos funds.” [Vanguard]