The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State has taken a swipe at Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on the state of finances inherited by his administration, declaring that the PDP government of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko left N20billion in the coffers of the state government.
The party in a statement issued by the former Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, said Akeredolu’s government inherited money from the PDP’s government when Akeredolu took over on February 24, 2017.
Akinmade said: “We are concerned by the figures within the speech released by the government and feel obliged to place the records straight.”
He said “for the avoidance of any doubt, our administration left about N20billion within the coffers of the state at it exited in February 2017. This included N7.37billion within the Current Account; N7.53billion as Fixed Deposit, N1.2billion within the MDG Account, $346,000 and 443,000Euro within the Domiciliary Account, including the N825million Sure-P fund at the Local Government account.
“The above amounts, most of which came late into our tenure was to be wont to offset a piece of owed salaries before the then Accountant General made a curious disappearance.
“On figures listed as External Debt, it’s necessary to state the subsequent. Our administration didn’t incur any foreign debt altogether its eight years. Also, the external debt stock as of February 2017 was US49,958,268.49, which (if translated at 1 US $ = N305) is N15.23billion.
All of those external debt stocks were inherited from previous administrations. Again, we didn’t contract any external loan for all of our eight years! Well aware of the very fact that government may be a continuum, we continued to service the debts, several which spanned over 20 years.
“Internal debt profile, weaver, stood at N53.159 billion comprising mainly of salary bail-out loan of N13.76billion, Excess Crude Account loan N9.79 billion, CBN restructuring FGN Bond N4.13billion, CBN budget support N7.5billion and Ondo State seven-year bond of N17.6billion.
All the above-listed indebtedness, only the Ondo State seven-year bond was directly incurred by our government to create major infrastructure across the state.
“Yes, we experienced the sad reality of salaries arrears like almost all the states of the federation. That is why unpaid salaries for the period August 2016 to Jan 2017 were N32.40billion, with N20.93 billion owed state government workers and N11.469billion owed local government workers, including political appointees.
“Even at that, it must even be clear that we left office on the 24th February 2017 while the federal allocation for February 2017 salaries was received by the incumbent government on the 28th of February, 2017. We couldn’t have paid February salaries once we didn’t receive February allocation before exit.
On pensions, a sum of N4.8billion was said to be owed by the state government and N25.237billion by the local governments.
We wonder where these figures came from. At inception, our administration paid N1.5billion out of outstanding pensions and gratuities.
All the years of our administration, monthly obligations to pensioners were considered and paid as part of salaries! The N32.40billion salary areas are, therefore, inclusive of obligations to pensioners, except gratuity, which is owed both at the state and local government levels.
While we note that gratuities are outstanding, we state for the benefit of all, that this is one sad development that was not peculiar to Ondo State alone. Almost all states of the federation have defaulted on gratuities in the last ten years or more.
Yet another point raised in the speech, we are interested in knowing what N39.740 billion, said to be contractors’ liability means if outstanding requests at the Accountant Generals office are N5.45billion.
We assume this may represent contracts awarded by previous governments which were yet to be completely executed since no clear information was offered in the speech on this figure.
What we know is that if this were so, such figures cannot be considered as debts until such contracts are executed at specified milestones, stages before which payments are not due.
There can only be debts upon performance. What can be considered a debt, in all good conscience, are the outstanding requests at the Accountant Generals Office?
We urge the govt and interested citizens of our state to avail themselves of the true state of our indebtedness from the Debt Management Office and therefore the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The reports are clear and unambiguous about the fact that Ondo State remains the least borrowed of the six southwestern states and the nine Oil Producing States as at our administration’s exit in February 2017. This, altogether modesty, must say tons about our debt management record.