Our attention has been drawn to a report circulating in the social media which we have confirmed to be factual that the Plateau State House of Assembly has today, approved a loan of N15B as requested by Governor Caleb Mutfwang in just less than 3 weeks of the PDP administration in the state.
A statement made available to this medium and was signed by Hon. Sylvanus Namang,
APC State Publicity Secretary stated that the All Progressives Congress in Plateau State, being a critical stakeholder in the Plateau project, seriously objects this loan acquisition as it is a killer pill by the desperate and unnecessarily hasty PDP administration which is known to have no regards for due process or walking the talk.
The two- third majority enjoyed by the Plateau State House of Assembly is obviously not a licence for recklessness and arbitrariness which if left unchecked, Plateau State would be worse for more turbulent days ahead.
The reasons advanced for the loan are as unconvincing as they are not tenable.
According to the reports, the loans are to be deployed for recurrent purposes as the payment of salaries and purchase of fertiliser 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 goverments to serve as condiut 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 fertiliser 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Law, passed by the Plateau State House of Assembly and assented to by the Executive Governor and which have not been repealed must be duly and deligently followed before any financial institution, local or foreign can consider.
First, the State Debt Management Advisory Committee must sit to discuss the purpose and necessity of the loan for the state.
Furthermore, Plateau State cannot operate as if we are under a military junta where things are done by fiat. For a serios issue as loan acquisition of this magnitude, the State Executive council must approve such loan before forwarding 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 today 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 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.
The important questions we need to ask are these:
Is there a State Executive Council presently constituted in the state? To the best of our knowledge, what is on ground is the Governor, his Deputy and the Attorney General, whom we believe himself and the Governor being lawyers, ought to be conversant with this simple governance process.
Secondly, has the Debt Management Advisory Committee been constituted in the state to discuss the loan based on the Law?
Thirdly if 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!
If this same Government is complaining of huge debt profile of N200 billion on Plateau State after 24 years of three successive Governments, which they have mischievously presented to the public as debts obtained by the immediate past administration, why are they quick to take another humongous loan?
Finally, we want to suggest that due deligence should be followed because the entire world is watching.
Certainly what is happening in Plateau state within these three weeks is mind-boggling which we are constrained to ask what these advisers who are being appointed piecemeal are telling the governor who is supposed to know and toe the path of caution.
The governor should be wary of certain characters he has appointed as Special Advisers to oversee the affairs of critical institutions as the House of Assembly who apart from lacking in capacity would always only feed him with toxic advice.
We advise the three- week old Plateau state government to embark on issues of immediate concern to the people of the state which security should be accorded the first priority as our people are being incessantly killed and displaced by wicked and heartless murderers.