The news that the Government of Niger State plans to issue a N12 Billion Seven year board to fund infrastructure projects has been of both concern and interest to well meaning people of the State since it was published on Friday, December 6th, 2013 edition of a national daily.
The concern here arises from the fear of what public debts have come to signify for the people and interest as to the same reason for which previous bonds were taken by the present government in Niger State.
The concern of Nigerlites is well placed. The experience of the different governments in the State, since the 2nd Republic, with respect to the foreign loan procured to finance the Bi-water project is enough reason for people to be worried when issues of borrowing by the Government comes-up.
It may however be important to identify the source of this news on the N12 billion 5 year bond. The Source of the news is identified to be the international news agency, Reuters, which itself attributes it to Obi Adindu, spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This is to say that the source, even if it not coming from the state government itself, is quite authentic.
We are told through Adindu, that the application has gotten regulatory approval and is currently at the stage of book building, in, or the words we are presented here with a fait accompli.
But then, why is the Niger state government keeping the public in the dark about this new loan, because whether you call it bond issue or any other name, it remains a debt, which we have to pay up.
POSERS: There are many questions that arise from this latest bond issue and they give an insight into the thinking of our government operatives and how they regard us.
1.Why have we (the good people of Niger State) in whose name the board is being procured, not been informed until a source from outside did?
2. This leads us to ask: why the opaqueness of the entire thing?
3. Is the House of Assembly aware of this new bond issue and was its approval obtained and at what session of its sitting?
In addition to these, we, Nigerlites are constrained to ask, what is the justification for this new N12 Billion bond issue for infrastructure projects and 500 housing units, that is being taken in our name when the earlier bonds of N9 Billion and N30 Billion have not been accounted for.
The term infrastructure development is such as persistent use as justification for continued procurement of State debt is troubling.
It was the reason for which N9 Billion and N30 Billion bonds were sourced. If these sums have not done enough to address infrastructures development so far and we have to add N12 Billion on top, then it must be patently wrong somewhere. So, rather than this new N12 Billion, government ought to give a forensic analysis on the application of N9 Billion and N30 Billion bonds as more debt burden. In the new N12 Million bond issue, is the added component of 500 housing units.
Why procure loan for housing units when the Talba Housing Estate, Minna (500 units) and Sani Bello Estate Kontagora lay abandoned after so much was spent on them?
Under the N9 Billion bond, we were told Rijau-Dukku and Kwakuti-Sarkin PawaRoads, Shiroro bridge and western Buy-pass Maitumbi-Maikunkele, were to be carried out. At best they have been on-going epileptically.
Only completed partially are Kutigi-fazhi, Dabban road, Gurara falls road and M.I Wushishi Housing Estate.
In the list of abandoned projects is Minna 5 Star Hotel, Millennium Plaza, Minna Airport City, 3 Arms-zone, Birgi-gwari road, all in Minna alone
In this case, we are left to question the rational for added debt burden to the State. This is even more compelling as the N12 Billion bond issue has a 5 year span which outlasts this government, which has always said it would pay up its debts and complete all its projects which have just less than a year to go. Why this new development. Is it to advance the under development of Niger State even before the 2015 exit date of this government?
Balarabe Abubakar, firstname.lastname@example.org