Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who chaired a special committee set up by the National Economic Council, NEC, says Nigerians will pelt ex-President Goodluck Jonathan with stones if revelations how his administration plundered the nation’s economy.
Oshiomhole while speaking to Vanguard, made further disclosures revealing that under the watch of Okonjo-Iweala, the Federal Government spent the sum of N140billion on consultancy for the Second Niger bridge. He said the money was sourced from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF, illegally, asserting that the Igbos must hold the former President responsible since such amount was expended with no bridge on ground.
He insists that the nation cannot succeed in the war against corruption unless people are prosecuted, stressing that “If Nigerians know what these people did, they will stone them to death, jungle justice. 700 million dollars gone on second Niger bridge without any bridge to show”.
Oshiomhole, visibly angry, said he may not be able to reveal as much as he would have liked but maintained that if Nigerians knew what actually went down during Jonathan’s reign, they would stone him and his cabinet members on the street.
He also spoke on the Edo World Bank loan, the race for the Edo guber race in 2016 and other national issues.
Sir, the National Assembly recently approved the 75million dollar loan to Edo State, but the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, opposed the loan deal saying the state is already heavily indebted, how would you react to that?
First, is that the PDP does not believe in development and for them anything that will bring prosperity to the people negates what they stand for. Which is politics for the benefit of PDP leaders. And of course they are embarrassed by the amount of goodwill that we have continued to enjoy from the people of the state; it is not easy to be in government for six and half years and you can still walk the streets – on and off. You find people trooping out to hail you and, see, they have been praying, with the declining oil prices such that many states can’t pay salaries.
Their first shocker is that Edo State was never in the club.
Then they started praying that okay if we can’t default in salaries we will default in our contractual obligations, that once people see that no job is going on, they will now cook up stories to confuse the people. So the PDP people are worried that with more resources available to us to sustain the projects we have started and even start new ones, there is no hope for them in the state. But you know there is nothing I have ever done that the PDP did not oppose. While PDP states in the South South were taking bonds of N100billion, N200billion, we applied for N25billion and they went to court to try to stop it, but of course they failed. If you look at the document by the DMO – you have listened to the narrative by the PDP governors which give a window about the debt profile of the states in the South South – you will find that even Bayelsa with eight local Governments is far more heavily indebted than Edo state, we are the least. From a bond of N25billion we have been servicing it because we pay N530million every month and we have paid over N21billion leaving us with less than N5billion left. If you compare this with what is happening in other states across the country, Edo State is the least borrowing. Remember that our neighbours are super rich states but they have borrowed more than us. But
even more outstanding for me, is that I am proud to say any day anywhere that our books are available. We have never borrowed a dime to pay salaries because I feel that will be the height of irresponsibility. To borrow to pay salaries because if you borrow to pay salaries what will you use to do projects. We have met our personnel cost strictly within our revenues while others could not.
So PDP’s worry is basically, ‘oh this guy is going to finish stronger even more than he started’. So everything must be done to stop him.
But they claim that……
(Cuts in) What is their claim? Look, I have also said to them, when we look at how much PDP stole under Okonjo Iweala and Goodluck Jonathan who is their chief, from LNG alone, that they did not remit to the Federation Account, Edo State’s share of it is more than N30billion. Osun State’s share of that is more than N25billion, Ekiti’s share of it is more than N24billion, so if they did not steal the money that should have accrued to Edo State and other states of the country, what the World Bank has lent to us is not up to 50 per cent of what we lost as a state from one source – LNG.
If you add other sources together, if you add NPA, in 2014 alone, they spent N160billion out of N162billion that they earned. They only remitted N2billion to government. The total revenue that accrued to Edo, Osun and Ondo States from the Federation Account is not up to what the NPA spent. So it is like we are the victims of the PDP massive looting and they have gone round to cause distractions but I think Edo people are clear, they know that we are working and we will continue to work.
Was the loan really necessary?
Let me make this clear, the World Bank facility, even the PDP Federal Government tried hard to secure such facility but it failed because it was never transparent. When you run a budget of 85 per cent recurrent and 15 per cent capital and even the capital projects as the National Assembly keep saying was never implemented up to 40 per cent, it means that for all the period of the past five to seven years of PDP, their capital expenditure was not more than 7-10 per cent of the total budget. Now, in Edo State, we revised these figures to 60-40 per cent in favour of capital. And we carried out massive reforms of our financial system.
You have not heard me talk about ghost workers in Edo state because we computerised our operations and with the press of a button everybody gets his pay, not by a team of clerks and typists. And it is these reforms that we carried out that we reformed our tax system, we are now less dependent on the Federation Account compared to what it was under the PDP, where they collected N250million and out of that they paid 30 per cent as cost of collection to their agent.
We don’t use agents, our cost of collection is even less than 40 per cent and we build institutions rather than contractors. These are the reforms the World Bank saw before they offered this DPO. Read the sentiments expressed by the bank as reason for giving us the loan. I think it settles all the questions.
One point which they made, which I feel is amplifying is that only Lagos has enjoyed the facility and now Edo is second and that they hope that this offer of support which is like free money, when you borrow at one per cent with a ten-year moratorium in a country where the lending rate average is 20 per cent, then it is free money indeed. Even a fool can see the beauty of this kind of facility; but they only extended it to Edo and Lagos because we have shown capacity to sustain reform, to build transparency, accountability and a procurement process that will ensure that we get value for money.
And talking about value for money, look at how much PDP government spent from Abuja to the Airport road in Abuja. On dry land using granite that you find even from the road. All the money we spent in Edo State over the past six years, both capital and recurrent is not up to half of what PDP spent constructing Airport Road in Abuja. We looked at their procurement policies, we have contractors that work for them that also work for us, we see their rates as compared to our rates.
Everybody can see how much we are getting in terms of value for money to compare with PDP. So I think the loan was a bold testimonial, an acknowledging of the profound reform that we have carried out. They saw the books of Edo State under the PDP for ten years and contrast that with our record of performance under our tenure and it was clear. The only sad thing about this is that people now talk about the 75 million dollars as if it is such a big money but really it is not when you look at the projects on ground.
Culled from Vanguard
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