Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has raised an alarm over the country’s rising debt profile and lack of income from sources other than crude oil.
He spoke in Benin today while addressing the State Transition Committee Stakeholders Engagement Meeting.
A statement by Mr. Chris Nehikhare, the Edo State Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, reports the Governor as saying that Nigeria was slipping into a debt quicksand and the country could be owing about ₦16 trillion by the end of this year.
The issue of revenue to run the governments and provide amenities for the people was obviously top on the governor’s mind and he showed much concern about what was happening.
He mused: “In another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to Abuja to share every month? Last month, we got FAAC for March. The Federal Government printed an additional ₦50 to ₦60 billion to top-up for us to share,” he said.
Obaseki continued: “We say remove subsidy, they say no. This April, next week again, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, the total borrowing is going to be in excess of ₦15 to ₦16 trillion. My worry is that we will wake up one day like Argentina, the naira will be ₦1,000, ₦2,000 and will be moving because we don’t have money coming in. You are just borrowing, borrowing and borrowing without any means or idea of how to pay back.”
The Governor said there is a social contract between the governed and the people in power. Therefore, leaders should provide sustenance for the people to live right. This social contract, he noted, creates the room for the people to live well but “it looks like the leaders have broken that contract”, said he.
“We need to change the narrative and ensure we keep the contract with the people,” he further maintained.
The Edo Governor noted that the major oil giants like Chevron and Shell no longer invest so much on oil as was obtainable in the past, explaining that Chevron was now one of the world’s highest investors in alternative fuel.
In addition, he said with the activities of Shell in the recent past, it is more likely than not, that the company intends to pull out of Nigeria.
On the 2023 general elections, Mr. Obaseki said the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was on the right track to halt electoral fraud, noting that politicians whose aim is to buy or manipulate votes during the polls will find it tough doing so.
He backed INEC on the deployment of technology to track and monitor elections in the country.
“INEC itself had also begun its own process of change. They have been worried, scandalised by what happened in Kogi and Bayelsa and were trying to redeem themselves; so using technology, they made sure that as soon as you finish voting in the polling unit, that result was transmitted and uploaded straight into a portal so they can see the pattern which makes it difficult to change results at the collation centers. That was what helped us. So any candidate or political party that does not see this and expects that we will do business as we used to do before, is taking a huge risk.”
He concluded that service delivery is the only way to keep electorates happy if politicians want to continue to receive the votes of the people.