That States' Debt Profile, A Few Akwa Ibom People, And The Audacity Of Silence!

By Udo Iniodu

A little patience!
That is all you all you need to understand the true motives behind people’s actions. For no matter how veiled the motive behind an action or repeated actions is, a little patience will always come good in the task of unraveling the motives upon which such an action is couched.

Let me give you an instance.
A few weeks ago, the Debt Management office – the Federal agency saddled with the responsibility of maintaining reliable debt data and ensuring effective management of Nigeria’s public debt portfolio released shocking statistics on external debt profile hanging on the necks of some states in this country.

According to the figures released by the agency, Lagos state disturbingly clinched the first position as the state with the highest foreign debt burden. As you read this, Lagos has a whooping sum of $1.43billion in foreign debts alone hanging on its neck. What this means is that Lagos as a state holds 39.17 per cent of the country’s total subnational foreign debts which at present is pegged at $11.26bn.

Kaduna State, with total foreign debt of $225.28million, comes in the second position. As the holder of this scarcely coveted second position, Kaduna holds 6.16 per cent of the subnational foreign debts.

Edo state stands behind Kaduna with a foreign debt profile figure totaling $179.52 million and goes down as the state in the South-South holding 4.91 per cent of the country’s subnational foreign debts.

As reported by Vanguard newspaper, other owing states in the subnational foreign debts include Cross River, $141.47m or 3.87 per cent; and Ogun, $103.55m or 2.83 per cent. Bauchi owes $97.23m or 2.66 per cent; Osun, $78.93m or 2.16 per cent; Adamawa, $77.14m or 2.11 per cent; Enugu, $74.46m or 2.04 per cent; Katsina, $68.99m or 1.89 per cent; and Oyo, $67.56m or 1.85 per cent. Some of the least indebted states of the federation are Borno, $21.89m; Taraba, $23.01m; Plateau, $29.24m; Yobe, $29.28m; Jigawa, $32.62m; Kogi, $33.56m; Benue, $34.26; FCT, $34.8m; Zamfara, $35.07m; and Delta, $42.21m.

Now here is the thing: When I first read that report and could not find Akwa Ibom state listed in the report, I felt there was an omission somewhere so I decided to check other credible online newspapers like Thisday Newspaper, Daily Post Newspaper and Today Newspaper, for their version of the report with the hope that I will find the figure for Akwa Ibom state debt profile. To my surprise, I could not find Akwa Ibom foreign debt figure in any of reports by these newspapers.

Immediately, I had to say a silent prayer to thank God for Governor Udom Emmanuel. I had to thank God for giving the Governor the vision to creatively allocate the very lean resources accruing to Akwa Ibom state into the execution of various people-centered projects and initiatives without having to go cap in hand to foreign lenders just yet. That statistics released by the Debt Management Office did a great job in confirming one instructive fact – That of a truth, Governor Udom Emmanuel is a visionary and prudent manager of human and financial resources.

After that silent prayer, I waited to see the few Akwa Ibom people who are usually the first to twist facts and weave bland versions of propaganda over non-issues, come out with a public statement with a message hailing Governor Udom Emmanuel for his adroitness in managing the state funds in the midst of paucity of funds we have been facing, and even in this recession, without getting listed in that DMO statistics.

The first day passed, I did not hear or read a thing from that section of Akwa Ibom population. Again, on the Second day, there was morning and there was also evening yet, no public statement came. It’s been days now, and the only signal that is coming from that section of the population is silence!

Instead of getting frustrated with the audacious silence coming from these few people I have decided instead to thank God for their silence. My thanksgiving is anchored on the fact that their silence has betrayed the real motives behind the frequent unwarranted missiles of criticisms directed at the present Government in Akwa Ibom state led by Governor Udom Emmanuel. It is now crystal clear that these few Akwa Ibom people are usually happier when Akwa Ibom state is facing challenges. In fact, good news like the “missing” name of Akwa Ibom state in the statistics with high debt profile tends to agonize them.

For how else do you describe this regressive attitude of only hoping and silently praying that Akwa Ibom experiences one misfortune or the other so they could blow such an incidence out of proportion for the purpose of advancing their hatred for the Governor? But they will be quick to tell you that their continuous denigration of the Governor is an attempt to hold the Government accountable to the people.

To my mind, the conventional practice of holding government accountable which is akin to rebuking an employee who does wrong goes well with commendation when there an occasion for commendation presents itself. Sadly, whenever an occasion to commend Governor Udom’s leadership dexterity throws up itself, these few people will switch into ghost mode.

I did not even get to read a public statement where these few Akwa Ibom people raised valid concerns about the intentional coincidence of the 3 APC governors to push their states into the position of history as the states with the highest foreign debts profile at the moment. Talk about selective criticisms!

Now the thing is this: There is hardly any government that is not occasionally faced with situations where borrowing becomes inevitable. What makes the difference however is the nature of projects, policies, and initiatives such debts are used to finance.

The message this recent statistics by DMO should push into our collective psyche as a people is that Governor Udom will only borrow when the need arises to drive people-centered programmes of development. For heaven sake, the elections were long over, we are at a time where we should collectively come together to build the Akwa Ibom of our dreams.

These acerbic criticisms will only embolden Governor Udom Emmanuel to work more harder to deliver on his electioneering promises to Akwa Ibom people. The sad thing is; when the story of those who contributed to the prosperous Akwa Ibom that we are marching towards with Governor Udom will be written, these few see-no-good say-no-good people will not have their names written in a commendable section. That is certainly not a goal worth striving for.

Akwa Ibom is becoming better with Udom on the saddle!

*Udo INIODU, a public affairs commentator wrote in from Ikot Usen village in Ibiono Ibom LGA.

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