Taraba and the politics of Governor Agbu’s multi Billion Naira loan
Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Taraba State Governor Dr Kefas Agbu recently received the nod from the State House of Assembly to obtain a loan facility of over Two Hundred Billion Naira from a consortium of Four commercial Banks for strategic development of critical areas in the State.
While most people commend the governor for the bold step taken to tackle the problems confronting the state and the transparency with which he is going about the loan, some critics are of the opinion that taking such a huge loan at a time the state is already battling with a backlog of huge indebtedness is literally mortgaging the future of the state.
For years, development has sadly eluded the state at the rate most people would have expected. Consequently, most people believe that governors only come to embezzle state funds. For these set of people, the State governor Dr Kefas Agbu, like his predecessors, is just looking for monies to loot and compensate his political cronies as well as establish a strong political network for himself, rather than any development of the state.
According to a Chieftain of the APC in the state Alhaji Hassan Jika Ardo, it is up to the governor to prove the people wrong that his intention for the loan is not to loot but to develop the state.
“Let us not deceive ourselves, most governors are only concerned with amassing wealth for themselves and their loved ones as against serving the people. Taraba State is a practical example. Look at the last Eight years for instance, those of us that were constantly drawing public attention to misgovernace were tagged nuisance.
“When I told the people that there is government but no governance under Darius Ishaku, they threw all kinds of tantrums at me. Today, I’m vindicated. I’m no longer the naysayer as I was tagged. So over the years, the people have become use to a system where leaders collect federal allocations, take loans and all monies that accrue to the state and just appropriate it to themselves through all kinds of fraudulent means.
“An so there is a trust issue. I am not very close to the present governor and so I may not know him enough to form an informed opinion about him yet. But I can tell you I have my reservations about the loan baes on previous experiences. It is therefore in his stead to prove to the people that he has their interest at heart and not just to loot monies and go away” Ardo said.
However, the Taraba state Commissioner for information and re-orientation, Mrs. Zainabu Usman Jalingo, quickly said, governor Agbu Kefas has no interest in looting the state treasury.
Usman told our correspondent that the governor was focused in building a new Taraba of greatness that all Nigerians would prefer to visit as a home, and the citizens lives would be transform.
“Governor Agbu Kefas is not interested in looting Taraba state treasury. He is focus to ensure that the dream to build a new Taraba of greatness and improve the lives of the citizens is actualize.The 206 Billion Naira loan request is not to enrich himself and family. The borrowings are substantially dedicated for capital projects and human development in line with the fiscal responsibility act.
“The desire of the governor is to ensure that, every citizen fee the real impact of good governance. His target is to reposition governance where government would be executing transformational projects on a regular bases.
“The developmental steps taken so far by the governor in Education and Agriculture, is a clear indication that he is out to ensure that Taraba is rank among top best Nigeria states in all aspects of life” the Commissioner explained.
However, not everyone is convinced. A concerned citizens Abdullahi Usman took up the matter and petitioned the Nigerian Apex bank to stop the commercial Banks from granting the loan, despite approval by the State House of Assembly and after all the relevant terms are discussed, agreed and sealed.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Digital Communications Honorable Emmanuel Bello however describes those working against the loan and the administration of Governor Dr Kefas Agbu as doomsday naysayers and those who wish the state to remain in the trenches.
“Apart from doomsday naysayers, no Taraba state citizen is left in doubt about the honesty and leadership of Governor Agbu Kefas. Even the opposition is in total agreement that Dr. Agbu Kefas can be trusted with the future of Taraba, especially its fiscal fortunes. The determination to usher in a new era has never been this clearer in our history.
“That is why we view with some comical astonishment when a faceless writer actually penned a petition on the loans the administration of Dr Kefas recently solicited.
For the records, will any bank support request for loans not solidified with collaterals and clear cut repayment plans? Why indeed should he even query the place of loans in developmental efforts? All experts are of the agreement that loans are alright, especially if they met the purpose for which they are collected. No one is annoyed with loans if they will raise the bar and transform communities. No one is against loans, if they will address pertinent needs and prioritize progress. Loans are actually applauded if they can be accounted for and prudently spent.
“Consequently, the Kefas loans (as they are now so called) have been adjudged to be the most vibrant, translucent and laudable in the dispensation of loans. Not just because they went through the right process but also because they are clear and concise in their purpose.
“Dr Kefas is focused on delivering on all his campaign promises, loans or no. Besides, it is only an enemy of Taraba state that can question that determination and singleness of purposes so obviously already demonstrated” Emmanuel Bello said.
Mr Samuel Adamu, an Economist told our correspondent that loans are an integra part of development that even developed nations still adopt to sustain their development.
“Well, I can tell you as an Economist that loans are not a problem. Administration of the monies is usually the issue when not properly done. In the first place, the purpose for which the loans are meant to be taken must be clearly and specifically stated. The intended outcomes must equally be clearly stated. And then the micro disbursement of the loans to achieve specifically set purposes must be drawn out to avoid wastages.
“The thing with money is that, there is always the tendency to divert it to other purposes other than those for which it was intended. That is where the distractions come from and in the end, you have a situation a loans fails to achieve it’s purpose.
“Looking at the loan in question, I read the letter that the governor presented to the state House of Assembly requesting for their approval to take the loan. It is detailed enough to show that he k owns what he is doing. Must of the money is not going into direct money making ventures that will yield liquid profit in the end. But they are going into critical development areas such as education, health, agriculture, tourism and many others. These are areas that have a lot of positive values for the state in the long run. In any case, that is what governance is all about” Adamu said.
Justin Tyopuusu, a public analyst on his part said he would be suspicious if the people had not come out to criticize the move by the state government.
“Remember that we are coming from a system where there was zero transparency in governance. We are coming from a situation where the finances of the state were treated like occultic secrets. As we speak, the actual indebtedness of the state is still not very clear. And so it is natural for the people to be apprehensive. The good thing is that, it is absolutely clear that this government means well and is set to deliver the state. It is clear that the governor has good plans for the state but the present economic realities also means that such a loan is simply expedient” Tyopuusu said.
Apparently, the loan proposal by the state governor Dr Kefas Agbu only months after assumption of office have stirred different reactions from different quarters for various reasons. For one, previous governments in the state have not created the trust between the government and the governed. For another, most people do not know the governor well enough to form an informed opinion about him, let alone trust him to deliver the state. For other persons, politics, religion, and ethnicity are the philosophical bases for their criticisms or otherwise.
Irrespective of opinion and views, the ball is in the court of Mr governor to either write his name in gold by putting the huge loans into Developmental purposes and actually repositioning the state on the path of much needed greatness, or tow the path of his predecessor who most people feel did too little for the state. In the end, only time will tell which is which.
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