The Kaduna State governor, Mukhtar Yero, has dismissed allegations made by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the State, Mr Nasiru El Rufai, that his administration has plunged the state into a huge debt burden.
The former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mr El Rufai, had in a statement last December said that the Peoples Democratic Party-led government had no meaningful infrastructural development to show for the debt burden that the state had been laden with and the over 600 billion Naira that it had received from the Federation Account.
Responding to the claims on Saturday, Mr Yero said his administration had not incurred any debt since its inception in 2012, insisting that he inherited huge debts incurred by past administrations starting from the creation of the state in 1965, and totalling over 37.5 billion Naira as at December 31, 2013.
Making clarification on the issue, during a post 2015 budget presentation news conference in Kaduna, the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr Samai’la Aliyu, said Kaduna State did not benefit from the debt relief which Nigeria enjoyed in 2006 from Paris and London clubs as the state did not obtain any loan from the two countries.
He pointed out that the current debt the state was owing accrued from loans jointly obtained from multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, International Development Bank (IDA) and African Development Bank (AfDB).
While stating that the state government is working assiduously to repay the debts, Mr Aliyu said the state government had been able to settle 24.56 billion Naira from January to November 2014 out of its previous debt profile of 85.39 billion Naira.
He added that despite the huge debt burden, the state government had embarked on various developmental projects in most of the sectors aimed at transforming the state.
Giving a breakdown of the 2015 budget, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr Garba Madami, said the state’s total external debt stood at 31.81 billion Naira while 17. 83 billion Naira was owed local contractors; 3.48 billion Naira secured from commercial banks and 1.4 billion Naira from the capital market.
He said 10.41 billion Naira was paid to commercial banks, 1.4 billion Naira for bond, 12.11 billion Naira to local contractors while 639.57 million Naira went to external debt servicing.
Kaduna is the second largest indebted state in Nigeria after Lagos. With a paltry one billion Naira monthly internally generated revenue, it is expected that the government must step up and look inwards for ways to improve it revenue base in order to be able to off set these debts and still carry on with its developmental projects.