The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson and the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, have disagreed over the debt profile of the state.
While the Minister expressed shock and disappointment that the Governor is denying the indebtedness of the state to the tune of N800 billion, the governor accused Lokpobiri of displaying “ignorance about governance.”
The minister has consistently challenged the governor to explain what and how he expended the N800 billion (domestic) and $216 million (external) loans his administration has incurred since coming into office in 2012, despite over N1.2 trillion that accrued to the state from the federation account for the same period.
The minister in a statement signed by his Media Aide, George Orji, also asked the Governor to account for the billions of naira for the local government areas of the state from the federal allocations and billions of naira from the internally generated revenue from the state.
But the governor in a response through his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, while denying the authenticity of the figures by the minister admitted that the state is only indebted to the tune of N123 billion.
“The official figure today is not more than N123 billion. We wonder where he gets his N800 billion any time he wants to criticise the government.”
The governor described the minister’s claim as the manifestation of a frustrated diaspora politician who has alienated himself from the state and who lacks the capacity to actualize his political dream to govern the state.
The governor urged Bayelsans and indeed the Nigerian citizenry to discountenance the spurious claim contained in the ill-conceived publication by the minister, which he said was in conflict with facts and reality.
Responding to the Governor’s figure of N123 billion, the Minister challenged the government to speak on foreign debts and the other trillions of naira accruals to the state.
Lokpobiri insisted that the state is indebted to the tune of N800 billion (domestic) and $216 million (external).
He accused Dickson of borrowing a whooping N222 billion (domestic) and $28 million (external) in 2012 alone and threatened to publicly disclose all the amounts the governor has been borrowing every year from 2012 till date.
According to the Minister, the actual loan profile of Bayelsa State can readily be gleaned from the Debt Management Office (DMO), the official federal government outfit, which domiciles all the loans for all the levels of government in the country, which is open for the public to access on the website of DMO.