The rising debt profile of Cross River State under the watch of Governor Ben Ayade of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently a source of worry to the State Chairman of the opposition African Action Congress, (AAC), Agba Jalingo.
According to him, the total debt stock of the state as at the end of 2017 was around N177.16 billion, with the external debt growing to $167.9 million in 2017, from $114.9 million in 2016.
For the AAC chieftain, this implies that the Governor Ayade administration alone incurred an additional $53million external debt between 2016 and 2017, pointing out that the state’s domestic debt also rose to N125.65 billion in 2017, from N116.06 billion in 2013.
This means that in the last two years of former Governor Liyel Imoke and the first two years of Governor Ayade the PDP administration amassed additional N9.59 billion domestic debt, Jalingo said, adding, ‘’on average, domestic debt grew by 2.27% annually, between 2013 and 2017.’’
The Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR), going by the figures provided by the opposition chief, appears to be rising. In 2015 it stood at N13.57 billion, in 2016 N13.77 billion, and 2017, N18.10 billion. But on the average, the monthly accrual from FAAC to the state is N2.5 billion, which translates to N30 billion on the average annually from the Federation Account.
‘’Cross River has exceeded her income to the borrowing ratio by 436.49 percent. If you take the highest IGR (2017), which is N18.10 billion and add to the annual accruable income from FAAC which is N30 billion on the average, the total revenue the state should boast of in a year is N48.10 billion’’, Jalingo said.
According to him, ‘’there are other unforeseen sources of revenue that may not be known to the rest of us. Let us assume that will give the state additional N20 billion annually. That will jerk the possible revenue of the state to N68.10 billion only.
‘’But the same state that barely earns N70 billion per annum has a 2019 budget of N1.02 trillion. And a 25-member House of Assembly passed the budget. Is that not hallucination? If it’s not, what do you call it? Lagos State IGR is N33 billion monthly and over N300 billion annually.
‘’Their own 40-member House of Assembly passed a budget of N874 billion for 2019. A government whose accruable annual revenue is less than N70 billion is planning to construct: N700 billion Super Highway, N500 billion deep seaport, N20 billion Obudu Airport, N18 billion Spaghetti Bridge, and N31.7 billion Mini Superhighway
Continuing, the AAC chieftain added, ‘’there are others whose cost we haven’t been told: Independent Power Plant, Calachika, Cocoa processing factory, Ogoja Rice mill, Calapharm, Air Cross River, as well as Piles, Poles and Pylons factory among others.
‘’Civil servants salaries for June 2019 haven’t been paid complete because Local Government allocations were not given to the governor for just one month; and there are indications that the allocation for the Legislature and the Judiciary will also be taken out soon.
‘’What is the magic that our governor wants to invent? Can those who still have our governor’s ears ask him to come down from that high horse, drink some chill water, calm down and be more realistic to the realities on the table?
‘’We all love our state and we want Cross River to create wealth and prosperity for us all. The governor should stop thinking he can achieve that by listening to his own voice alone and those of his praise singers. He needs help to situate his remaining 1406 days on a result oriented trajectory and he should seek it NOW!’’