10 January 2018

Nigeria: Lawmakers Ask Governor to Produce Details of Akwa Ibom Debt Profile

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has asked the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration to present to it details of the debt profile of the state and the repayment plans.

Usoro Akpanusoh, the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations and Finance, made the demand when the state Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan, appeared on December 19 before the committee during the ongoing public hearing on the 2018 budget of the state.

The House criticised the administration's continuous use of Zenith Bank Plc for all the state government transactions, saying it is detrimental to the state's economy.

Governor Emmanuel was a director in Zenith Bank before he resigned to join politics. He appointed the state finance commissioner, Mr. Nkan, from the bank.

"It is observed that the state government operates its accounts with a particular bank," Mr. Akpanusoh, who represents the Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency, said during his opening address at the public hearing.

"In the best interest of the state's economy, and the Akwa Ibom indigenes working in other banks, it is pertinent to recommend that the government should extend its patronage to other banks.

"Besides, Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd, the only state-owned bank, needs the government patronage," said Mr. Akpanusoh.

Akwa Ibom's N155.4 billion local debts, as at December 31, 2016, is the third highest in the country, according to the Debt Management Office.

Lagos State has the highest with N311.7 billion, followed by Delta State with N241.3 billion.

Akwa Ibom finance commissioner, Mr. Nkan, declined comment when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him.

The state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Victor Antai, told the House Committee on Monday that the state government has taken over the running of the Le Meridien Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort from Starwood Ltd because, according to him, the former managers of the hotel did not remit any money to the government for the past 10 years.

Mr. Akpanusoh said during the public hearing, "We want to assure the Akwa Ibom public that our oversight function of effectively monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the 2018 budget will be judiciously carried out so as to ensure fiscal discipline in the conduct of government affairs."


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