N21.5bn Sukuk Bond: Senator kicks against Niger Govt plan

Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State

Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

Sen. David Umaru (APC-Niger East)

Sen. David Umaru (APC-Niger East) has kicked against plans by Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger to take a N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

Umaru, who made this known on Sunday during a press conference in Minna, said that the bond would plunge the state into ‘outrageous indebtedness’.

The State Government last week announced that it was seeking a N21.5 billion Sukuk bond for infrastructural development.

The Senator stated that the administration lacked the capacity to make judicious use of the funds from the Sukuk bonds if accessed.

According to him, Bello had failed to account for billions of money accrued from statutory allocation to the state including other financial interventions from the Federal Government.

“It is on record that over N114 billion was accessed by the Bello administration between 2015 and 2017 as net (Federal Account Allocation Committee) FAAC Allocation.

“Nigerlites are still asking as to how the bail out funds from the Federal Governme and disbursements from the Paris Club refunds allegedly amounting to about N250 billion were utilised.

“How have these huge resources translated to providing critical development infrastructure necessary for the economic and social development that would reduce poverty in the state,” he added.

Umaru noted that while the people of the state were still groaning under the heavy debts burden incurred by the past administration, the governor had chosen to add to their pains.

“It is disturbing that the waste of resources and lack of accountability that characterised (former governor) Aliyu’s administration seems minute when compared with financial recklessness of this government.

“While past administration left a total sum of N44 billion as external debts and N30 billion as internal debts, the present administration appear ready to break such ugly record with heavier debt burden,” he noted

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The senator also decried the lopsided distribution of projects in favour of the governor’s zone, adding that some projects which had been captured severally in previous bonds reappeared in this bond proposal.

“It is equally important to point out that the administration has failed woefully to equitably distribute projects under the bond across the three senatorial zones.

“The lopsided distribution of the projects in favour of the governor’s zone is highly regrettable and unacceptable because he got votes from the three zones to assume office.

“And again, Minna township roads project captured severally in the other bond facilities taken by the past administration, has reappeared again.

“The question now is why is government recycling this same project. Is it because it has become a conduit pipe to siphon public fund,” he asked.

The lawmaker further faulted the timing of the bond, wondering why the government was seeking the facility now, with barely a year to the end of its tenure.

He urged the State House of Assembly to withhold approval on the loan request to save the state from further impoverishment, saying giving him the nod to access the facility will amount to mortgaging the future of the state.

However, in a swift reaction, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Danjuma Sallau, said the projects executed with the bail out funds from the Federal Government and Paris club refunds were there for every one to see.

The commissioner said that the funds were used to pay salary arrears of workers as well as rehabilitate of schools in the state.

Sallau said that the Sukuk bond would be used for the construction of Minna township roads, trailer park in Suleja, Kontagora water works, Mariga modern market and mining city development among others.

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