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EDITORIAL: OKOWA AND THE PLANNED N4BN LOAN

The recent approval by the Delta House of Assembly, on Tuesday, July 29, of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for another N4 billion loan to bridge finance loan facility from Zenith Bank, came to us as a surprise.

The Governor’s request going by media reports was contained in a letter forwarded to the State Assembly and read during plenary by the Speaker, Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori. Okowa said that the request was sequel to an earlier approval to secure the loan by the State Executive Council. The loan facility, according to the Governor, is for the completion of ongoing projects which will be beneficial to the people of the State.

At the face value, the Governor’s explanations look good, but, beyond these peripheral considerations, there exist reasons for well-meaning deltans to consider this decision as a reality to worry about.

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Very fundamental, apart from this request by the State Governor coming in the face of the rising State debt profile, the State Government by this latest request appears to be unmindful of the time-honoured dictum which says that no state or nation becomes great by living on borrowed funds.

Admittedly, the Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa’s led administration in the State is doing well in the deployment of infrastructures. However, Ika Weekly Newspaper, like the generality of deltans with critical minds, is not only worried but deeply troubled about the current move.

To shed more light on our fears, we ask; why does the State presently view borrowing as alluring and the most available option? Why can’t the state managers productively look inwards to see how they can increase the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)? Why must we offer the future financial freedom of the State and that of our unborn children on the altar of infrastructural development?

Again, the letter made mention of the finance/loan coming at favourable terms and conditions. And, we ask; how favourable can a loan be?  A loan in its commonest sense can never be favourable to the borrower.

This is a fact we must internalize.

Against this backdrop, we, therefore, call on the State Government to halt the move and look for other friendly approaches to development without endangering the future financial fortunes of our children and that of our dear State.

We also suggest that the state Government should study the Senator Ahmed Tinubu leadership account of Lagos State between 2003 and 2007, a period when the State’s Federal Allocation was withheld by the Federal Government. Yet, the administration was able to seamlessly lead the State not with loans but Internally Generated Revenues.

It is a leadership lesson we must not ignore at this critical moment of our existence

 

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