Sunday, October 19, 2014 8:17 pm
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos state,western Nigeria, said the central government in Abuja is owing the state N51billion, being costs of repairs carried out on federal roads. He said the debt has been certified.
Fashola made the disclosure today at a briefing to mark his 2,700 days in office. The governor since 2007 May, when he came into office, has made it a ritual every 100 days to render an account of his stewardship.
He revealed the indebtedness as he offered a robust response to opposition critics who flayed him for borrowing N160 billion.
He said the money borrowed was being put to good use and listed a long list of projects being undertaken by government, including the rail project.
“In the last 100 days, we have commenced work on providing street lighting on the Muritala Mohammed Way in Yaba. This is 10 Kilometres of Public lighting which will be completed by the end of this month. On Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge, Ikorodu Road, Lekki-Epe Expressway and every street and highway where there is street lighting in Lagos, it is the Lagos State Government who supplied the poles, the bulbs, the diesel and the maintenance. The only major highway we are not managing for street lights is the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
“Fire engines, to secure lives, Rail Transport from Okokomaiko to Marina, with four stations of 8km completed, and work heading to Marina, with piles appearing near the Eko Bridge every day are the places your Government is spending money. The expansion of the Lagos Badagry Expressway to a 10-lane highway is another place where your Government is spending money.”
Fashola said the people of Lagos have no reason to be worried about government’s indebtedness, judging by government’s debt management policy and the good ratings by Fitch.
“Let me assure you that your state can repay every debt that she has contracted; in order to provide services for you. This year our 2009 bond for N50 Billion fell due for repayment. We paid without any problem.
“After payment there is still a balance of N82.3 Billion in the Consolidated Debt Service account, which will continue to grow because of the monthly savings we make into it, in readiness to pay our three outstanding bonds of N57.5 Billion, N80Billion and N87.5Bn which are maturing in 2017, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, your state is safe, its finances are secure. It has a Fitch International credit rating of BB-, stable with a positive outlook, which is the same as that of the Federal Republic. Just last month, Fitch upgraded the state’s National Long-Term rating from AA to AA+ with a stable outlook which is an indicator of the financial resilience of Lagos.
“What further assurance of stability can you ask for? This is the only state in Nigeria with that rating. This is possible because an APC Government runs this state. This is the 5th largest economy in Africa, please remember that when you go out to vote. It is not a place to experiment with beginners.
“So when next the voodoo economists come to you about debt, remind them that they said the same to you in 2003 when Lagos issued the first state bond of N25 Billion and drew N15 Billion to build roads and schools that are still there. Tell them that Lagos has paid that debt.
“When next they tell you about debt, tell them that private companies, who have no responsibility for security, for water supply, for public health, for road construction and many other public services are borrowing in excess of what Lagos has borrowed.
“When next they come to tell you about debt, remind them that they approved the borrowing.
“And if they ask you about debt still, ask them to account for over N2 Trillion spent on fuel importation without appropriation, and to explain what happened to $20 Billion.
“If these huge amounts were made available to the Federation account for the states, and local Governments, clearly things might be different.” (Read the Governor’s Full Speech here:Governor Fashola’s 2700 Days Speech