By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State government has said that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu inherited the sum of N220 billion as debt from the immediate past government of Dr Olusegun Mimiko when he came into office six years ago.
The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, who disclosed this on Thursday said the administration of Governor Akeredolu has however reduced the state debt inherited to N92 billion.
Speaking at an interactive session with members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Akure, Igbasan said the debt included multilateral loans, seven months of unpaid salaries, pensions, and contractual obligations.
His words “We have internal and external debt in the State but when you bring the totality together, the conceptual debt amount to N220 billion, when we took over, right now it has reduced to N90 to N92 billion, including multilateral, all the salaries we paid are part of the debts, pensioners cumulative debt is N35 billion.
“Even if we deploy the resources of the state we cannot offset this, then we decided to give N200 million to them yearly to sort the pensioners’ debt, how they handled it is also another ball game, I have my reservations on it, we also allocate N300 million for their palliative, we have paid all leave bonuses, except for level nine to 15 in 2019 we had paid up to date even till 2023. As of today, with all the work that has been done, I am not sure we are owing up to 10 billion as conceptual debt.”
Igbasan explained that the recently rolled out 30-year development plan was to enable the state meet its needs by the year 2054 after a critical assessment of its asset, potentials, and capabilities.
On the Ayetoro sea incursion, Igbasan said the sea incursion problem faced by Ayetoro’s residents has been a source of worry to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s government.
According to him, “Ayetoro is a problematic and pathetic one for us as a state. If you look at the historical heritage of that place and its enterprises, it is not a place that should go into extinction.
“There are so many theories because for me before I proffer a solution, I want to dig deep into the root of the problem so that I won’t be dealing with the symptoms. I told Mr Governor that before we can give solutions to the problem in Ayetoro, we need to know the cause.
“There is no vacuum in nature. If you look at the proximity of Ondo State to Lagos and the volume of sand that was pulled from the sea to create a city where they drove the sea several miles away, there’s the possibility the sand was gotten from Ondo State.
“Some states erected sea-breakers at the bottom of the sea which would change the natural cause of the flow of the seawater, that might have been the repercussions that we are facing here. Another perspective is the activities of the oil companies.
“While I was doing my research, I stumbled on information as far back as 1958, and it has been predicted that something like this would happen.
“The rise in climate change and the erosion level can be the cause too in Ayetoro. They have awarded numerous projects to salvage the issues in Ayetoro, one of them brought in sand to fill the place but within a few days they ran out of sand.”
“We need to conduct a critical survey on the solution to that place. Mr Governor, before he went on vacation, put up a committee on the Ayetoro problem. They are to look for funds to tackle the situation.
“The Governor was emotional and said this would be one of the bad things he will leave behind that he left Ayetoro worse than he met it.”