In a scathing critique, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Plateau State has strongly criticized the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led government for its efforts to secure a N15 billion loan from the State Assembly.
The APC voiced concerns over the speed at which Governor Barr. Caleb Muftwang sought and obtained the substantial loan within just three weeks of assuming office, suggesting that if this trend continues throughout his four-year tenure, the loan amount could potentially reach a staggering N720 billion.
“In three weeks we are taking a loan of N15B, what will be the debt position of the State in four years from now? Simple Arithmetic would put this at N720 billion!”, the State APC Publicity Secretary, Hon. Sylvanus Namang said.
Recall that the State Assembly, just approved a loan for the Governor as requested by him, a development that has cost an uproar in the political space.
However, according to Namang, “the two-third majority enjoyed by the Plateau State House of Assembly is obviously not a license for recklessness and arbitrariness which if left unchecked, Plateau State would be worse for more turbulent days ahead.
“The loans are to be deployed for recurrent purposes as the payment of salaries and purchase of fertilizer which on the surface, the government wants to deceive the workforce which has been on strike, that it cares for their welfare and the farming community in the State.
“The APC in Plateau State sees this as a facade and an attempt to pull the wool across the people’s eyes. The government, having failed to install Interim Administrators in the local governments to serve as conduit pipes, decided to go for the N15 billion loan as an alternative to service its extra budgetary commitments.
“Government is a continuum and the past dispensation had made adequate budgetary provisions for payment of workers’ salaries and very essential products like fertilizer given the fact that Plateau State is largely an agrarian state.
“This bogus N15 billion loan approval is particularly more worrisome because for a loan to be collected, the following steps as clearly spelt out in the Plateau State Debt Management Law, passed by the Plateau State House of Assembly and assented to by a previous Governor and which have not been repealed must be duly and diligently followed before any financial institution, local or foreign can consider”, the statement reads in part.
Namang further accused Muftwang for failing to constitute a State Executive Council Cabinet calling his attention on how a serious government should be run.
“Plateau cannot operate as if we are under a military junta where things are done by fiat. For a serious issue such as loan acquisition of this magnitude, the State Executive council must approve such loan before forwarding it to the House of Assembly for deliberation.
“The Exco approval must then be transmitted to the House of Assembly for their discussion and approval which cannot be passed as was done at its very first formal sitting as Members of the 10th House of Assembly.
“Mandatorily, such approvals by the State Executive Council and the House of Assembly would then be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Department to further process.
“These two agencies are to do other processes such as; Raising of Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO), seeking for the Debt Management Office and Minister of Finance approval before any serious financial commitment can be considered”, Namang emphasised.
Responding, the PDP laughed at the frustration of the opposition APC in the State, saying that former Governor Lalong plunged the State into a debt profile only for owing salaries of civil servants to be N11 billion, not to talk of the accumulative debt profile Lalong incurred before exiting office.
The PDP who spoke through the Director of Press and Publicity to the Governor, Mr. Gyang Bere, said former governor Lalong in a few weeks into office in 2015, lobbied the House of Assembly and collected a loan of N10 billion which cannot be accounted for.
Bere said then the APC formed a majority in the State House of Assembly.