Governors equally culpable for Nigeria's burgeoning debt, says Akerele – Guardian Nigeria

Debt. Photo: RTE
The Executive Director of Policy House International, Taiwo Akerele, has blamed excesses of state governors for the country’s increasing debt stock.
According to him, the federal government should not only be blamed for the huge debt burden but also the state governors who allegedly arm-twist the relevant federal institutions to get their loans approved.
Akerele, who made the submission in a paper presentation on ‘Stop the ostrich game, Governors can change the narrative of development,” yesterday in Abuja, noted that statistics from the debt management office (DMO) show very clearly that only 35% of the total federation debts belong to the federal government, about 35% is owned by the 36 states while the outstanding debt of 30% is jointly owed, especially loans that have to do with immunisation and COVID-19 recovery and budget support instrument.
He argued that: “if this is the case, on what grounds should a state governor squarely place the debt crisis at the foot of the federal government?”
Akerele submitted, “As a seasoned Project Manager/Advisor of World bank funded projects of close to 15 years now, I know the enormous pressure states put on relevant federal institutions such as the national assembly, debt management office, office of the attorney general of the federation, office of the accountant general of the federation and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to get their several loans requests approved, even when sometimes it is obvious that their fiscal outlook does not support such loan request at the time.
“In some circumstances, some of them resort to sheer blackmail to get their loans approved.”
He stated that Nigeria can work if the governors start sitting down in their various states to truly work for the people, adding that this country can work if the state governments design a system that ensures effectiveness in service delivery at the local government level.
He added that there will be a significant development in the country if the primary/basic education system is well funded when more resources are allocated to teachers’ training by the state governments and increased functionality of the primary health care system across the states.
The policy analyst also stated that things can work if the states start investing in internal roads within their states and if governors can stop the borrowing spree and concentrate on internal resource mobilisation.
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