Mr. Terver Akase, the aid to the immediate past Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom has refuted claims by the Governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia that he inherited N359bn debt from Ortom.
Akase in a statement said the Benue state debt Chief Ortom handed over to the governor remains N187.56 billion and no more.
Governor was quoted to have told journalists recently the state is reeling under some N359bn debt burden he inherited.
The statement stated that “the present government of Benue State is selling a narrative to unsuspecting people of the state that they inherited N359 billion as debt from the previous government led by Chief Ortom. This narrative is not only false but is also a deliberate stratagem to snooker the people.”
“Curiously, this same government told the people via a statement by Governor Alia’s Chief Press Secretary in June this year that Governor Ortom handed N187.56 billion to them as debt, which was the same amount the former Governor mentioned while presenting handover notes to his successor. What the present government is saying about the state debts now contradicts their previous statement” it stated.
Akase said ex-Governor “Ortom was explicit in his handover speech that though the debt situation of the State Government at the time of his exit from office might appear to be on the high side (N187.56 billion), his administration had taken proactive steps to negotiate and ensure significant debt reduction/reliefs leading to Debt Swap Between Benue State and Federal Government as facilitated by the Nigerian Governors Forum. Total Debt Swap for State and Local Government Councils stood at N71.6billion.”
He further explained that “the inflows Benue State was expecting at the time Governor Ortom was leaving office were: (a) Backlog of accumulated Stamp Duties – N48billion, (b) Refund from Debt Swap with Federal Government – N22.95 billion. Total = N70.95 billion. When the negotiated debt swap and the expected inflows are discounted, the State was set to attain a significant debt reduction, bringing down its debt profile to N45.2 billion.”