RE: Edo PDP’s Over N100bn Debt: Group Urges Obaseki to Halt Repayment By Chris Osa Nehikhare

FACT: APC Inherited N4b debt from PDP in 2008

FACT: Edo state now 3rd most indebted state in Nigeria under APC.

FACT: Over N100b borrowed in 10 years (2008-2018)

FACT: Chief Odigie-Oyegun APC national chairman as Governor took the ADB loan for the Ikpoba River Dam water project.

FACT: PDP government preserved the materials that were purchased by that government.

FACT: Materials sold by Governor Oshiomhole through the office of the SSG and supervised by Governor Obaseki as chairman of Oshiomhole's economic team.

FACT: PDP built two housing estates from the N2b collected from the capital market from issuance of Bonds- Iyekogba and Iguosa.

FACT: Adams Oshiomhole's N30b bond for storm water project unaccounted for. Evbotubu residents are exposed to the dangers of the abandoned project.

FACT: Edo APC government received N30b refund for PDP excess debt repayments.

It would not have been necessary to respond to the article with the above title purportedly written by an obviously faceless group (Reform Mandate Forum) representing the interest of the ignoble APC and Governor Godwin Obaseki led Edo State Government but for the purpose of not allowing the APC traumatized indigenes and residents of the state to be further misinformed and misled.

It is pertinent to state meanwhile that the purpose of the irresponsible and unpatriotic statement put out by the agents of the pillaging APC government is to divert attention from the genuine allegations of the Edo State PDP regarding the financial recklessness and unaccountability of the almost ten years old Edo State APC government.

To begin with, it is curious that this group would be calling on the APC government, ten years after the party took over from the PDP, to stop servicing aN100bn loan it alleged that the PDP government (1999 – 2008) took to run the affairs of the state which it inherited from the military regime that until then had governed and plundered the state for 16 years (1983 – 1999).

In the largely malicious narrative about the PDP administration, the fact that Chief Lucky Igbinedion met a state deeply indebted to workers to the tune of billions of Naira is conveniently omitted. Similarly, that the PDP led administration committed huge sums of its revenues to massive employment, workers’ welfare and human capital development – factors on which the APC governors, one without Primary school certificate and the other, with a sworn affidavit that his certificate is missing, since 2008 have failed woefully, is given a blind eye.

Whereas the APC government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole inherited a civil service of over 8000 workers, when he was sworn in, he had reduced the workforce to about 2000 workers. And this has largely remained the case in the over one year administration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki. On the issue of employment, the APC government has only demonstrated a penchant for temporary employment whereby the workers who are remunerated within the range of the minimum wage are over time offloaded into joblessness, despondency and depression.

These politically motivated and partisan narrators go out of their way to paint the unfair picture of a PDP government that did not make any mark. It is on record though, that that PDP government made a bold attempt to rebuild the state in virtually all sectors.

In the health sector it built, equipped and funded the Stella Obasanjo Hospital in addition to equipping and funding the Central Hospital, Benin City and other primary health care infrastructure across the state – a critical sector that the APC government has completely ignored since the days of Adams Oshiomhole, to the detriment of Edo people.

In the area of sports, the PDP revamped the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium – modernized the main bowl and built within the complex a 2000 capacity indoor sports hall, among other improvements. The PDP administration also invested in the youths through sports and took Edo State back to the glorious days of a frontline sporting state.

It is on record that the Igbinedion PDP Administration in its second year in government completed more than 30 electricity projects in the three senatorial districts viz: the 33/415 KVA Ewohimi/Iyagun in Esan South East LGA, the 11/415 KVA Usen in Ovia South West LGA; the 33/415 KVA Ikpeshi in Akoko – Edo has the College of Agriculture Iguoriakhi in Ovia South West LGA.

It is convenient for critics and APC apologists to overlook the overall developmental achievements and attempts of the PDP government, for which public funds were responsibly appropriated. Need we go on to mention the giant stride in Housing or even the industrialization efforts of Edo State which the APC instead of completing as a responsible government would do to better the lives of the people, abandoned. We have in this regard, such projects as the Iguosa housing Estate, Iyekogba housing estate, Cement Plant in Auchi, the Fertilizer Plant in Ikpeshi and the Cassavita Factory in Uromi. Conversely, can anyone mention the industrialization or housing project of the APC government since 2008? There is none.

It is not our intention to devote this write-up to the achievements of the nine and half year long PDP government in Edo State but it suffices to say that upon critical examination of all the indices of development against the backdrop of inherited liabilities and available funds, posterity will sure judge the PDP better. In its nine and half years in government, Edo State received less than N400b . This figure also include funds for local government councils. Under Adams Oshiomhole's eight years, Edo State received over N2.5T.
The partisan critics of the party try to hide the fact that the APC administration, even though they have done poorly so far, has its grounding on the achievements of the preceding PDP government.

Now to the issue of N100bn debt the faceless APC group has accused the PDP government of leaving behind for the APC; did the PDP government leave behind such a debt burden? The answer is a capital NO! Did the PDP government take loans to facilitate infrastructure development in Edo State? Sure it did as any serious government would to fast track development. And as a responsible government the PDP made commendable effort to pay back all the loans that it took such that when Sen. Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor left office as governor after just a year and half, the PDP left a debt burden of only N4bn to the APC. Of this N4bn Governor Oserheimen Osunbor inherited N2bn from Governor Lucky Igbinedion while Osunbor incurred the balance N2bn. This is a matter of public record.

It is rather unfortunate that almost ten years after it took over, the APC would still be sponsoring falsehood and misinformation to cover up its financial recklessness and unaccounted for borrowings that today makes Edo State the third highest indebted state out of the 36 states in Nigeria and Abuja. The APC as the records show has borrowed well over $283m which has not significantly been defrayed.

It is pertinent to point out that rather than be in deficit, the PDP government in Edo State paid back its loans in excess, a situation that has made the APC government under Governor Obaseki to enjoy a refund of over N30bn from the Paris Club – a group of creditor nations which the PDP government settled accumulated debts. It is therefore apparent that whereas the APC inherited a loan liability of N4bn from the Edo State PDP government, it has benefitted by default over N30bn from the same PDP government, with more expected.

It is therefore a mischief of the highest order for the so-called Reform Mandate Forum to attribute N100bn indebtedness to the PDP government which records show left just N4bn unpaid. And is it not a pointer to the irresponsibility of the APC government that it has led Edo State from owing N4bn to owing hundreds of billions of naira, largely unaccounted for and dubiously wasted in the guise of such elephant projects like the abandoned N30bn Benin City Storm Water Projectand the “world class” multibillion naira wing of the Central Hospital Benin, yet to be put into use over a year after its elaborate presidential commissioning. The list is endless of overinflated road projects which have been the APC’s sole developmental effort in the state in the past ten years.

Instead, what we have had are the arraignment and incarceration for serious fraud and crime, the top echelon of APC leadership by EFCC. From a one time SSG and head of service to chairman of SUBEB to the woman leader and at least one commissioner.

In conclusion, it should be stated emphatically that the allegation of the PDP leaving a debt burden for the APC is blatantly false. The APC is the architect of the present frightful cathedral of indebtedness in Edo State. The APC government has fleeced the state in spite of incurring a humongous debt burden that makes us shudder and fear for the future growth of Edo State if left in the hands of those that know nothing but to trade with the fortune and future of Edo people!

Chris Osa Nehikhare is the state publicity secretary of PDP in Edo State.

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