Former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, has said his administration left N20bn in the coffers of the state.
Mimiko was reacting to a statement by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, on Wednesday, that he inherited a debt burden of N220,588,125,731.00 from his predecessor when he came to power in February 2017.
Akeredolu had also said that the Ondo State’s economic situation was in a bad shape.
But, in a statement by a former commissioner information under the Mimiko’s administration, Hon. Kayode Akinmade, the ex-governor said Ondo “did not incur any foreign debt in all its eight years” in power.
The statement said, “Our attention has been drawn to the speech made by the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu on the state of finances inherited on February 24, 2017. We are concerned by the figures in the speech and feel obliged to put the records straight.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, our administration left about N20Billion in the coffers of the State at its exit on February 2017. This include: N7.37.Billion in the Current Account; N7.53Billion as Fixed Deposit; N1.2Billion in the MDG Account; $346,000 and 443,000Euro in the Domiciliary Account, including the N825million Sure-P fund at the Local Government Account!
“The above amount, most of which came late into our tenure was to be used to offset a chunk of owed salaries before the then Accountant General made a curious disappearance.
“On figures listed as External Debt, it is necessary to state the following. Our administration did not incur any foreign debt in all its 8 years! Also, the External debt stock as at February 2017 was US $ 49,958,268.49, which (if translated at 1 US $ = N305) is N15.23billion. All of these external debt stock was inherited from previous administrations.
“Again, we did not contract any external loan for all of our 8 years! Well aware of the fact that government is a continuum, we continued to service the debts, some of which spanned over twenty years.
“Internal debt profile, we aver, stood at N53.159 billion comprising mainly of salary bail out loan of N13.76billion, Excess Crude Account loan N9.79 billion, CBN restructuring FGN Bond N4.13billion, CBN budget support N7.5billion and Ondo State 7-Year bond of N17.6billion.
“Of all the above-listed indebtedness, only the Ondo State 7-Year Bond was directly incurred by our government to build major infrastructure across the State.
“Yes, we experienced the sad reality of salaries arrears like almost all the States of the federation. That is why unpaid salaries for the period August 2016 to Jan 2017 was N32.40billion, with N20.93 billion owed State Government Workers and N11.469billion owed Local government workers, including political appointees.
“Even at that, it must also be clear that we left office on the 24th February 2017 while Federal Allocation for February 2017 salaries was received by the incumbent Government on the 28th of February, 2017. We could not have paid February salaries when we did not receive February allocation before exit.
“On Pensions, a sum of N4.8billion was said to be owed by the State Government and N25.237billion by the local governments. We wonder where these figures came from.
“At inception, our administration paid N1.5billion out of outstanding pensions and gratuities. All the years of our administration, monthly obligations to pensioners were considered and paid as part of salaries! The N32.40billion salary arrears is therefore inclusive of obligations to pensioners, except gratuity, which is owed both at the State and Local Government levels.
“While we note that gratuities are outstanding, we state for the benefit of all, that this is one sad development that was not peculiar to Ondo State alone. Almost all States of the federation have defaulted on gratuities in the last ten years or more.
“On yet another point raised in the speech, we are interested in knowing what N39.740 billion, said to be contractors liability means if outstanding requests at the Accountant General’s office is N5.45billion.
“We assume this may represent contracts awarded by previous governments which were yet to be completely executed since no clear information was offered in the speech on this figure. What we know is that if this were so, such figures can not be considered as debts until such contracts are executed at specified milestones, stages before which payments are not due. There can only be debts upon performance. What can be considered a debt, in all good conscience, are the outstanding requests at the Accountant Generals Office.
“We urge the government and interested citizens of our state to avail themselves of the true state of our indebtedness from the Debt Management Office and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). The reports are clear and unambiguous about the fact that Ondo State remained the least borrowed of the Six South Western States and of the 9 Oil Producing States as at our administration’s exit in February, 2017. This, in all modesty, must say a lot about our debt management record.
“We have a duty to set the records straight for posterity. And this we have done with no malice and or ill-feelings.” PUNCH