Akwa Ibom owes N80bn, not N600bn — Akpabio

Former Governor Godswill Akpabio

Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom has denied an allegations that the state owes as much as N600 billion.
The governor said that although the state had borrowed over N80 billion due to the dwindling economic fortunes, it had since paid up to N30billion, with a possibility that the debt will further be reduced to less than N45billion in the next two months.

Speaking in an interview in Uyo, Mr. Akpabio described the N600 bn debt claim as the activity of the opposition who are bent on deceiving the people in order to grab political power.

He said that with the signing into law of the Freedom of Information Bill by President Goodluck Jonathan, those who genuinely need information about the State’s finances can easily approach the State Ministry of Finance for details rather than being caught in the web of lies on the social media, which is a product of bad politics.

“When we realized that the economy was going down in 2013, we decided to go for the first loan, and all we have borrowed as a state amounts to N80billion. So far we have paid back over 30billion,” he said.

On why he has not responded to the allegations, “We would have responded if they had written to us, but they have refused to write to us, but chose to go to the social media and write all sorts of things.”

According to Mr. Akpabio, “We can’t allow their falsehood and propaganda on the social media to bother us because it is all politics and at the end of the day, God’s will will still be done in our state.”

He said that every penny received by his administration as loan received the approval of the State House of Assembly.

“I have not collected any loan without the approval of the State House of Assembly, because you must convince the lawmakers on why you need to collect the loan and of course show them the capability to pay back, and the banks cannot give you the facility when they are not sure that you can pay back,” he said.

The governor said he saw no need in responding to every allegation on the social media and some tabloids.

He said the debt of the State is minimal considering the quantum of development projects that dot the landscape of Akwa Ibom.

According to him, some of the projects are money spinners that are capable of generating revenue for the state, and listed some of them to include the State International Airport, the world class hotels, the specialist hospital, as well as the independent power plant which despite some challenges is now generating 110mw to the national grid.

Mr. Akpabio said all these were achieved even when the State’s allocation which was over N15billion before he assumed office in 2007, had since dropped to N12billion, a difficult trend considering the State’s salary wage bill of N5billion, pensions and outstanding bank debts and a low internally generated revenue profile.

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