Twelve newly sworn in governors have inherited approximately N2 trillion in foreign and domestic debts incurred by their predecessors, New Telegraph has learnt.
This comes as an addition to the latest burden of N30,000 new minimum wage recently signed into law, which the new governors will have to implement.
The debts exclude pension arrears and unpaid salaries in some of the states.
According to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), total foreign debts of the 12 states stood at $2.1 billion (N658 billion) as at December 2018, while their combined domestic debt was N1.354 trillion.
The figures were computed as at December 2018.
Based on the results of the last gubernatorial elections, the states where new governors were sworn in on May 29 are: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Zamfara and Imo.
Lagos State, despite being the richest in the country with its 2018 IGR surpassing that of about 30 other states combined, is still the biggest debtor among the 36 states of the federation. The state accounted for 33 per cent of the total states’ foreign debt in 2018.
Analysis of the states’ debt showed that the governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) inherited N967.4 billion in foreign and domestic debt. This comprises $1.4 billion foreign debt (N436.4 billion based on current official CBN exchange rate of N306 to $1) and N530 billion domestic debt.
The debt profile places a heavier burden on Sanwo-Olu than his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who inherited a total of N418.2 billion when he assumed office in 2015.
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, inherited a total liability of N130.2 billion. The state’s foreign debt was $103.2 million (N31.3 billion) as at December 2018, while its domestic debt stood at N98.7 billion.
Former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who spent the constitutionally-allowed eight years, was reported to have inherited a total of N97 billion debt when he came on board in 2011.
In Oyo State, Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took over the mantle with N123.6 billion debt to deal with.
According to NBS’ data, the Pace Setter State’s external debt stood at $104.9 million (N32.1 billion) in December 2018 while its local debt was N91.5 billion. The outgone Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who also completed his second term, had, in 2011, claimed that he inherited N4.8 billion debt from his predecessor.
The Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) assumed office on May 29 with N116.9 billion debt welcoming him. The state’s liabilities comprise $59.5 million (N18.2 billion) foreign debt and N98.7 billion domestic debt.
Outgone helmsman of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, said he met N100 billion debt when he took over in 2011.
Ihedioha has admitted that Imo State was financially insolvent. The new governor, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that the state government under Okorocha owed N57 billion pension arrears of over 77 months.
In Kwara State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has settled down to a N73.9 billion debt owed by his predecessors. Though still not among the heavy debtors, Kwara had a foreign liability of $48.5 million (N14.8 billion) as at December 2018, while its domestic debt stood at N59.1 billion. The outgone Governor Abdufatah Ahmed is reported to have inherited N42.4 billion in local and foreign debt when he came on board in 2011. Ahmed took over from the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Zamfara State may be having a very low debt profile compared to a state like Lagos. However, that does not leave the new governor, Dr. Bello Matawalle of the PDP (who was recently declared winner of the March 9 election courtesy of the Supreme Court following crisis in
the APC over primary election) without a debt of N70.1 billion.
According to NBS, the Zamfara State’s foreign and domestic debt was $33.5 million (N10.2 billion) and N59.9 billion respectively.
Similarly, NBS’ statistic listed Yobe as the poorest state in the country in terms of IGR last year. The state also had the lowest debt profile among the states, which leaves the new governor of the state and immediate past National Secretary of APC, Mai Mala Bunu, with N36.1 billion debt incurred by his predecessors. Yobe’s foreign debt was put at $27.4 million (N8.4 billion) while its domestic debt was N27.7 billion.
In Adamawa, Ahmed Fintiri, who defeated an incumbent governor, Senator Jibrilla Bindow, inherited N119.5 billion in foreign and local debt. According to NBS, the state owed international lenders $97.7 million (N29.9 billion) while its domestic debt stood at N89.6 billion.
In the same vein, Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, took over the mantle of leadership of the state with N133.2 billion debt. While the state’s foreign debt was $133.9 million (N40.9 billion), it owed N92.3 billion locally as at December 2018.
Governor Mohammed, while being sworn in, claimed that he inherited a debt of N136 billion from the previous administrations.
“The unfortunate impact of this is that debt servicing will now significantly encroach on funds and short-change our cash flow,” Mohammed said.
For Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, N74.9 billion debt is on ground to deal with. The state’s external debt stood at $21 million (6.6 billion) while its local debt was N68.3 billion.
Gombe State’s Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya inherited a total debt of N74.7 billion. His predecessors’ foreign liability stood at $37.4 million (N11.4 billion) while their domestic debt was N63 billion. Former Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo completed his second term, though his party, the PDP, lost the state to APC.
In Nasarawa, Governor Abdullahi Sule is not spared the burden of the past as he inherited N103.4 billion foreign and domestic debt. From the NBS’ statistics, the state owed foreign lenders $59 million (N18.1 billion) while its domestic liability stood at N85.3 billion. Governor Tanko Al-Makura has completed his two terms in office and heading to the Senate.
Meanwhile, some of the immediate past governors may face backlash from their successors, especially those that are succeeded by opposition parties, over the huge debt burden on ground.