Alarmed at the approval of the issuance of a N100 billion bond by the Oyo State government, Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, has cautioned Governor Seyi Makinde against excessive borrowing.
Makinde on Wednesday morning announced the approval of the loan tagged “Oyo Prosperity Bond” which, according to him, will facilitate the execution of priority projects that will further drive economic development in the State.
This is coming after the administration secured close to N50 billion loans in the first 14 months of its emergence.
It will be recalled that the Oyo Assembly had on May 19, 2020, approved a N22.5 billion infrastructure loan from a commercial bank. Before that, on October 10, 2019, the Assembly had approved the sum of N7.6 billion for the upgrading of two farm settlements in Akufo and Eruwa, to Farm Estates.
Akande, who hails from Otu, headquarters of Itesiwaju local government area of the State, explained that there is nothing bad about borrowing, but added that what such loans seek to achieve must be of economic benefit to the people of the State.
According to him, “Nobody needs to be told that the Nigerian economy has not been good for years. Many states have been struggling to meet their obligations. So, if any state is to borrow to fund any project, such project must be one that would bring economic development to the State.
“While I am not against infrastructure development in our dear State, proper evaluation needs to be done to determine which projects should be financed through borrowing. It should not be about borrowing to finance just any project. We have got to a stage where projects to be embarked upon by government at all levels must be ones that will lead to increase in internally generated revenue, draw investors to the State, create wealth for the people and ease the financial burden of the State.
“The Ibadan Circular Road project, for example, is a laudable one. It is a project that would open up the State and bring about an increase in IGR if properly harnessed. However, it is economically unhealthy to borrow to finance the project. Late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, I recall, had awarded the project via a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement before the incumbent government ordered the company to stop work. What I think the government should have done was to engage a company with the capacity to fund it via a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
Prof. Akande also advised Governor Makinde against burdening taxpayers in the State with funding the expansion of the Ibadan Airport. “The airport is a federal responsibility. Rather than burden taxpayers in the State with the cost of expanding the airport, Governor Makinde should work with representatives of Oyo State in the National Assembly to secure federal funding for the expansion of the airport by the Ministry of Aviation. The federal government is presently expanding many airports across the country, and Oyo State should not exclude herself from this benefit. The recourse to state finance for the airport project is an indication of failure in ensuring cordial federal-state relations by the Oyo State Government.
The government must not impose an extra burden on taxpayers in the State by self-funding projects that can be funded by the federal government or the private sector.”
Urging Governor Seyi Makinde to be creative in the aspect of fund generation and harnessing Oyo State’s economic potentials, Akande lamented the neglect of major infrastructural facilities across the State which, he said, should be useful for economic growth.