Gombe State government has described as false, malicious and misleading allegations that his administration has within its 70 days of existence accessed a loan of 6 billion Naira.
The government while reacting to the allegation through the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the Governor, Ismaila Uba Misilli described it as a manufactured falsehood aimed at discrediting the progressive Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya.
In a press release titled ‘Re: Governor Yahaya’s alleged 6BN loan in 70 days: Kera’s failed attempt to distort facts’ the government stated that, “the claim that Governor Inuwa Yahaya secured, in just 70 days after his assumption of office, up to N6 billion loan facility; that the government had borrowed about N2.5 billion to pay May and June salaries and another N3.4 billion to address malnutrition. Both claims were made without a scintilla of documentary evidence nor credited to any source but Kera’s”.
It stated further that, “it is on record that in the few months of his assumption of office, there has been an unbroken chain of initiatives and programmes by Governor Inuwa Yahaya to correct the wrongs of the Dankwambo administration and set the state on a path of prosperity”.
The media aide added that, “Kera said the World Bank loan to tackle malnutrition in the state was hastily obtained without any due diligence and fiscal impact assessment by the Inuwa-led administration and that “the recent loan agreement signed by the State Government and Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria, (ANRiN) is an outright misplacement of priority for a government that said it does not have means to sustain the tertiary institutions established by the previous administration in the state.”
“To the ignorance of the writer, the said loan he is vilifying the Governor for was not a loan by choice but rather by status of Gombe being among the states with the highest rate of malnutrition, as assessed by World Bank due largely to the failure/ negligence of the immediate past administration”, he stated further.
He also explained that, “The loan was indeed part of the state portfolio signed by Dankwambo but due to the insensitivity that characterised his tenure in office, the former governor did not consider it a priority to address the plight of malnourished children. All that was required of the previous administration of Dankwambo after signing the agreement documents, was to pay its counterpart funding of fifty (N50m) million naira to secure World Bank intervention in addressing malnutrition in the state which he failed to do up to the end of his tenure on May, 29”.
“As a responsive and responsible governor who is alive to his responsibilities, Governor Inuwa Yahaya knew it was in the best interest of the state to key into the World Bank/Federal Government initiative and make the commitment on behalf of the state to save thousands of Gombe children suffering from Severely Acute Malnutrition (SAM), a move that will make Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) available for treatment. How this qualifies as a “loan jamboree and accumulating debt” remains a mystery” the statement further contained.
“However, we wish to set the records straight to inform and educate Mr Kera and his benefactors. On the issue of the loan accessed for payment of salaries, this was a spill-over responsibility, a huge burden left behind by ex-governor Dankwambo, who was in the habit of borrowing to pay salaries, leaving as at today, 6 local government areas indebted and bankrupt for the present administration to tackle. In fact, these Local governments, left alone, cannot pay staff salaries from the allocation they receive from Federation Accounts”, the government clarified.
It explained that, “Not one to toy with sensitive welfare issues such as wages of workers who dedicate the best part of their lives working for the growth and progress of the state, the Governor took a rightful decision to take an overdraft to pay salaries while awaiting allocation to the state which would be used to offset the bill immediately. In fact, the previous administration took loans every month from 2015 up to the time they handed over in order to meet up with the payment of workers’ salaries due to loan deductions at source to the tune of over N1 billion which the Dankwambo administration took without any recourse”.
“Indeed, if anyone took the state to the cleaners with loans, it was the past administration. Who could have done a better job to entrap Gombe State in needless debt conundrum than the immediate past administration under whose watch local debts increased from N5.95 billion in 2011 to N63.45 billion in May, 2019. This led to rising debt profile, which stood at N119 billion as at May 29, 2019. A review of the state’s fiscal position indicated that since 2011, the previous administration received N11.71 billion and N5.6 billion Paris Club refund, out of which N3.01 billion was paid as consultancy fees by Dankwambo”, it alleged.
“It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that Dankwambo’s spokesperson is betraying the fact that his principal is jittery. To them, the quest for accountability is seen as “engaging in an unnecessary political witch-hunt and setting up committees upon committees to the detriment of the state”, as he claimed.
“Kera demonstrated clear lack of knowledge on the laws and procedures, as provided for in section 2:2 of the DMO Act that requires every state Governor to follow diligently before obtaining any loan. In this case, no such procedure has been initiated not to talk of obtaining any such loan”, the statement added.
“Let it be known that Governor Inuwa Yahaya and the good people of the state are undaunted by the campaign of calumny orchestrated by shallow minds. For Governor Inuwa Yahaya, it is all about the development and progress of Gombe State and he will not be distracted in this project”, the government claimed.
The government concluded that, “It is obvious that right to the expression given freely by our constitution has been abused in the supposed ghost write up. We do not wish to join issues with those we soundly defeated in elections because we believe that left on its own, the whole bogus story will dissipate”.