The Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural
Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and the Bayelsa Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson have again engaged in trading of words over the amount of debt and accruals to the State.
While Senator Heiineken Lokpobiri in a statement issued yesterday via email and signed by his media aide, Mr. George Orji , expressed shock and disappointment that Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is denying that the state is indebted to the tune of N800 billion.
Governor Seriake Dickson, through the State Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Hon. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, described the N800 billion debt claim by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, as disgraceful and unexpected of a person occupying his exalted position.
Markson-Oworiao said that it was queer and indeed sad that a Minister could quote wild debt figures with the intent to mislead the public and discredit the government.
The commissioner said that while the state government got N21.94 billion, the local government areas received N2.22 billion.
He stressed that the state government decided to make the Paris Club Debt public in consonance with the prevailing policy of transparency and accountability for which administration is reputed,”the unsubstantiated figure was inconceivable as it conflicted with the authoritative figure from the Debt Management Office which put the state debt portfolio at N123 billion.”
According to him, while the government was dedicated to the continuous execution of big ticket projects, it condemns in strong terms the deliberate misinformation of the public with the intent to score non existent and impossible political advantage.
The commissioner challenged Lokpobiri to inform Bayelsans of the number of projects he had attracted to the state as minister whose party was in control of government at the national level.
He said, “The Debt Management Office, (a federal Institution) in its June 2018 report stated that the debt portfolio of the state was N123 billion. This figure includes contingent liabilities which included contract payments and pension obligations.
“While the government is making every effort to achieve massive developmental strides in every area, government wish to condemn the unguarded statements of some highly placed individuals.
“The recent unsubstantiated statement of the Minister of State for Agriculture that the State is owing N800 billion is disappointing of someone of his high office and indeed disgraceful. As a minster for agriculture, he needs to inform Bayelsans of the impact he has made even in his local government area.
“We advise Lokpobiri to educate himself or engage a brilliant young graduate to assist him.”
In his statement, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri 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 and the over N1.2 trillion that accrued to the state from the federation account for the same period,
He also stated that 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 have been allegedly misappropriated.
According to the Statement issued by Senator Lokpobiri, “For the avoidance of doubt, the honourable minister insists that the state is indebted to the tune of N800 billion (domestic) and $216 million (external). He accused Dickson of borrowed 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. He describes as tissue of lies, the figure of N123 billion being bandied by the governor as the amount the state government is presently owing and urged His Excellency to refrain from peddle falsehood about the financial status of Bayelsa State.”
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.”
Senator Lokpobiri, who questioned the impact of the huge debts and accruals on the lives and wellbeing of the people of the state, draws a nexus between massive corruption and wastes by the governor and the astronomical
rise of insecurity in the state. He insists as usual that, the reason why Bayelsa
State ranks very high as one of the most insecure states in the country is because of the pervading corruption and wastes that has become the hallmark of the Dickson administration.”
The minister maintains that had the governor deployed the loans and the other financial accruals to the state to positive, wealth-creation and developmental projects, the social problems bedevilling the state today would have been minimally addressed and the issue of insecurity would also have been nearly non-existent.
“Once again, the Honourable Minister advises the governor to settle in and face the onerous task of providing leadership and good governance, which is statutory obligation he owes the people of Bayelsa State.”
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