State governments owe $3.3bn foreign debts – Senate

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Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, on Saturday, raised the alarm that the various state governments in Nigeria owed $3, 271, 960, 461, 03 foreign debts.

Sani, in a statement he signed in Abuja, said most of the debts were loans collected to provide infrastructure or to create investment opportunities and that many of them might take up to 50 years to service.

He alleged that the lion share of the foreign and domestic loans collected by the states was spent on personal luxuries or wasted in maintaining local political empire or even used to finance white elephant projects and unrealistic political campaign promises.

He expressed the fears that states could end up burying themselves in debts if they kept on borrowing without adequate plan and enough resources to service them.

The Kaduna Central Senator restated his opposition to the plans by the governors of the northern states to obtain huge sums as loan from the Saudi Arabia based Islamic Development Bank, insisting that the money might end up again, in private pockets.

He said, “The Northern Governors had through their Chairman, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, reacted to my opposition to their move to secure loan from the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia.

“They insisted I am wrong and they are right. I wish to respond to them. The current foreign debt profile of Nigerian states stands at $3,271,960,46103. Most of these debts were loans collected in the name of infrastructure or investment.

“There is no tangible infrastructure development in the north commensurate with amount of loans collected by the state governments in the last two decades.

“Most states are incapable of servicing their debt in the next 50 years. Taking cognizance of the current state of our economy, we have been plunged into a debt trap of which our grand children will not even be able to pay.

“There is no single export based investment or industry in the north that is currently in operation towards generating and attracting one million dollars monthly of foreign exchange.”

Sani argued that the dwindling oil revenue and handouts to states should not be the justification by northern governors to source for foreign loan and pile up debt for both the current and future generation of northerners.

He added, “Most part of foreign and domestic loans collected were spent on personal luxuries or wasted in maintaining local political empire or financing white elephant projects or funding unrealistic political campaign promises.

“If we keep on borrowing at this phase, without adequate plan and enough resources to service them,we will end up burying ourselves in debt.

“Despite the hoopla of diversification, there’s no seriousness by most states to improve on agriculture. Most states ministries of agriculture are simply redundant underfunded bureaucracies.”

He advised Shettima, being a seasoned banker and other northern governors to look inwards and think of better ways to liberate the masses of from pauperism and underdevelopment instead of lumping on them, another burden of unserviceable debts.

Sani said, “If this generation of Nigerian leaders cannot leave behind for the future generation, a developed and industrialised nation, they must not enslaved them and paralyzed their future in debt.”

source: http://www.punchng.com/state-governments-owe-3-3bn-foreign-debts-senate/

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