The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been urged not to advance any fresh loan request to Gombe State government, in order to avoid burying the state under a mountain of debt from frivolous loans being obtained by the State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya.
The call was made by concerned group of stakeholders under the umbrella of the Gombe Good Leadership Association (GGLA) which expressed worry that the governor has ignored the calls to avoid accumulated debts with the danger of mortgaging the state’s future going ahead to seek additional loans running into billions from banks.
In a statement issued and signed by a Trustee of the Association, Mohammed Salisu Abdullahi, titled ‘The Gombe State Borrowing Governor Is At It Again’, had raised the alarm over the increasing debt incurred by the Governor allegedly for development purposes.
The group said, “The Governor has plunged Gombe State into a quagmire of crippling debts. Nothing is more reckless than borrowing money to repay a debt or cope with the crushing effect of existing debts.”
“The public will recall that we have recently made a press release concerning the spate of reckless borrowing by the Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya-led Administration of Gombe State. Just when we thought we had seen it all from the Governor, a copy of the letter by the Governor to the Honourable Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly dated 20 October 2021 with reference number GO/GD/FED-98/V.I proved us wrong.”
“In the letter, the Governor is requesting for the resolution of the Gombe State House of Assembly allowing him to access the Federal Government’s Bridging Finance Facility in the sum of N18,746,059,992.57 (Eighteen Billion, Seven Hundred and Forty -Six Million, Fifty-Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety-Two Naira, Fifty-Seven Kobo)”.
According to the statement, “In the words of the Governor, Mr. President has approved “Six Hundred and Fifty-Six Billion, One Hundred and Twelve Million, Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Naira, Three Kobo (656,112,9,740.03) Bridging Finance to 35 States of the Federation to cushion the effect of the repayment of the existing Federal Government Intervention Facilities (Budget Support Facility, Excess Crude Account- Backed Loan Facility and Salary Arrears Bailout Facility).”
For emphasis, the group reiterate that the Muhammadu Inuwa Yaya-led Administration of Gombe State has, between March 2020 and July 2021, procured debts of “N14.5 Billion from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc, N2.0 Billion to finance Healthcare Infrastructure Development in Gombe State, N12.0 Billion Credit Facility from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, N10.8 Billion Finance Facility from United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, and N5.0 Billion from Family Homes Funds for the provision of one thousand units of Affordable Housing Units.
According to the Association, “The above-listed debts do not include the N11 Billion borrowed by the previous Administration for the Gombe Revenue Optimization Company Limited (GROCOL) but received by the present Government. This N11 Billion brings the total amount of money obtained as debt by the Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya-led Administration with a space of a little over two years to N55.3 Billion.”
The group lamented that if the Governor is allowed to obtain the N35 Billion debt that has been hurriedly approved by the Gombe State House of Assembly on 13 October 2021 and the proposed debt of N18,746,059,992.57, for which it is seeking approval in his latest letter to the Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, the Governor would have succeeded in amassing a total debt of over N109 Billion One Hundred and Nine Billion Naira, in a little over two years of his administration.
The association noted that, there is no gainsaying that the debt service to the overall revenue of Gombe State is excessive and inimical to the economic and developmental aspirations of the State pointing out from the governor’s angle that the revenue of the state cannot even take care of the recurrent and debt servicing portfolio of the State.
“The Federal Government has been indulging State Governors and pressuring the Central Bank to lend monies to Governors under all sorts of dubious projects and schemes.
“We therefore call on the Central Bank to resist any temptation to further advance any loan to the borrowing Governor of Gombe State who is hell-bent on mortgaging the state to satisfy his selfish ends,” it added.