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Is Gov Kefas’ Loan Request A Step In Right Direction?

By Audu Solomon Maiyaki


I'm compelled to put up this rejoinder in support of the ongoing effort by the Executive Governor of Taraba State Dr. Agbu Kefas to access some loans to the tune of N206,776,000,000, from commercial banks.

One concerned citizen of the State, Mallam Abdulluhi Umar had petitioned the Acting Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Mr. Folashodun Shonubi not to grant the loan to the Taraba state government. At the same time, he also urged the Acting CBN Governor to immediately instruct the affected commercial banks to suspend any consideration of granting the requested loan facilities.

The petitioner noted that he was worried and concerned because the loan facilities being sought by the state government were characterized by the brazen violations of subsisting laws of Nigeria guiding the process of the loan application by the various tiers of government. Mallam Umar cautioned the relevant agencies to investigate the loan process.

Umar the petitioner writing through his Counsel, Parlance law office in Garki Abuja, in an 8-page letter dated 9th August 2023, stated that he was bringing the information to the attention of the Acting CBN Governor for immediate investigation and to daunt all banks involved in the process.

Copied in the petition were President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representative, Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit and EFCC Chairman, among others.

The petitioner further alleged that the recent loan facilities requested by the state government from the commercial banks was hasty, ill-conceived, a wasteful venture, that the loan is politically motivated to consolidate power of an embattled Governor, facing challenges to his petition in court, and an attempt by the governor to put the State in a state of perpetual servitude of paying debts beyond its means and penury under the guise of embarking on purported developmental activities.

Ironically, this is uncalled for, a laughable, pathetic and antagonist from the petitioner who is an enemy of the state. He should know that this is a new administration that just came on board and needed to fulfill all the campaign promises to the state to enable the new government progress and achieve its tremendous projects within and outside the state. It's not business as usual.

This government is committed to a lot of projects to execute in many areas, before his 100 days in office. The projects are in tourism, transportation, health, agriculture and education sectors among others.

The loan facility is needed to achieve some of the projects stipulated above to meet its goals and objectives.

The Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas, had on 2nd July 2023, written to the Taraba State House Assembly seeking approval to enable the state Government access loan facilities worth the sum of two hundred and six billion, seven hundred and seventy six thousand naira (206,776,000,000) only from four commercial banks.

The letter was read by the speaker of the house, Honorable John Kirito Bonzena, on the floor of the parliament and subsequently, it was approved by the state house of assembly. The petitioner claimed the move was hasty and ill-advised.

The four commercial banks involved in the loan application and their respective loan amounts are as follows; Zenith Bank Plc (83,300,000,000.only) UBA Plc (50,000,000,000. only) Fidelity Bank Plc (50,000,000,000. Only) Keystone Bank Plc (23, 000, 000, 000. Only). In addition, the Governor stated that the security for the loan facility from Zenith Bank Plc shall be deducted from the FAAC allocation to Taraba State.

While that for the facility from UBA Plc shall be deducted from JAAC belonging to the Taraba State. Furthermore, he stressed that the security loan facility from Fidelity Bank Plc shall be deducted from VAT accruable to Taraba State and finally, the security for the facility from Keystone Bank shall be deducted from Taraba State Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The Governor explained further, that the total rate of the facilities shall be 23% in total, comprising 18% interest and 5% administrative charges deductible upfront, and the tenor of the listed facilities is four (4) years only.

Meanwhile the petitioner in his words questioned that the loan facilities and its unfavorable conditions were yet to be fully disclosed to the state house assembly by the ministry of Finance, Budget and planning.

The petitioner stressed that the Governor had hotly contested the ongoing litigation at the Taraba Governorship election Tribunal that is yet to deliver its Judgment.

Also, he said that the loan can be easily diverted to other projects unconnected with what the loan was meant for since the position of the current Government is shaky and may be set aside by the court, His concern was how would the government repay the huge loans granted to the State?

The petitioner is an attention seeker that want to be recognized in a public domain, I could see his frustration, having lost woefully to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a wild margin, the petitioner is looking for all means to antagonize the present government not to achieve its campaign promises to the good people of the state.

The petition is a bad omen. Mallam Umar, note that the governorship election petition in court is dead on arrival because it has no merit. The litigation is a baseless one, nothing good will come out of the petition. I would like to make clear that having litigations going on in a court of law has nothing to do with governmental activities. Government is a continuous process. 

With or without the loan, Taraba would progress beyond expectations. The Governor Kefas administration is determined to see Taraba state move in the right direction in terms of development.

He was working tirelessly inviting foreign investors to come and invest in Taraba, the God given state that has a lot of natural resources to compete with the rest of the world and to showcase Taraba state around the globe.

Gov Kefas in his wisdom carefully selected credible hands into his government. Among the credible hands is the Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Planning, Dr. Mrs. Sarah Enoch Adi, a well-trained and qualified personnel in Finance and Accounting.

 She is expected to bring on board her wealth of experience both at home and abroad in making sure the ministry had a new face and equally improved its working condition.

Also, it is expected of her to block leakages and bring new innovations that would help the state to compete favorably. In her quest, Dr. Sarah has hit the ground running by providing an adequate working environment in the ministry, thereby assisting the governor in various governmental engagements with foreign investors. 

Also, helping out in guiding the State government to access the loan facilities are among other tasks ahead in her ministry.In conclusion, Taraba state has a lot of potential that will take the state to its promised land. There is no amount of debts owed by the state that cannot be repaid if properly managed. 

I would like to assure the petitioner that it's not the right time to criticize the government in any way because this is a government that has a strong will to develop Taraba within the shortest possible time. 

The petitioner should stop projecting the state in a bad light. Let all Tarabans pray for the prosperity of the state and the success of Dr. Kefas administration.

Audu Solomon Maiyaki wrote from Jalingo, Taraba State.

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