The ruling All Progressives Congress in Edo State and the Peoples Democratic Party have traded words over the state’s foreign external debt burden.
The Debt Management Office had in its latest statistics ranked Edo as the third highest debtor to foreign creditors among sub-national governments in Nigeria.
According to the data, Edo State owes $232.2m as of December 2017, coming behind Lagos and Kaduna, which owed $1.47bn and $238.28m, respectively.
The opposition PDP, while reacting to the DMO report, said it had shown that the APC government had allegedly thrown the state and its citizens into perpetual indebtedness, an allegation the ruling party denied.
The PDP also accused the state government of over-burdening the citizens with debts that “generations yet unborn will continue to settle and pay.”
The PDP state Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, said, “Our own information shows that we (Edo) are the second (highest debtor). I think I need to reconcile what we have with the DMO so that it would see that, actually, Edo is number two.
“It shows clearly what we have been saying over the past nine years of the APC government. It (the APC) has thrown the state into a bottomless pit of debt that generations yet unborn will continue to settle and pay.”
But the state Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, told our correspondent on the telephone that the data released by the DMO also included debts incurred by previous administrations under the PDP, adding that the loans taken by the state government had been directed at capital projects and other activities aimed at boosting the state’s economy.
Ojezua said, “The DMO statistics include debts that were incurred even before the APC got into office in this state; they include the ones that were incurred by the PDP government. But one thing I want to let you know is that all the loans we have taken as the APC (government) in Edo State have all been directed to capital projects, infrastructure, and all the debts that we will eventually incur will be those that can be used to boost the economy of our state and human resources, not to pay salaries and claims, as is the tradition of the PDP.
“The PDP is the party I know; it would take loans and not use it for the purpose. Rather, it would privatize the money and transfer the liability to the state. But in the case of the APC, we are very responsible for the type of debt that we incur.”
Source: The Punch