BY PAUL MICHAEL
A group, Concerned Nigerians has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the recent controversial N150 billion “bridging finance” facility approved for the Delta State Government by the state House of Assembly.
The credit facility has generated lots of negative reactions since its approval by the House of Assembly. While calling on the EFCC to investigate the purported loan in a petition signed by its conversation, Deji Adeyanju, Concerned Nigerians said the credit facility is “a last-minute looting by the state government to fund elections.”
The petition, which was addressed to the Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Abdulrasheed Bawa, claimed that it has become a practice for state governments to obtain huge loans under the guise of public interest but subsequently divert it into private pockets.
The petition reads, “We write this petition in our capacity as pro-human rights and anti-corruption group, seeking the urgent investigation of the Delta State Government, over its attempt to loot the N150 billion loan recently approved by the Delta State House of Assembly.
“At a time when the nation is engrossed with the commencement of electioneering process leading to the 2023 election, it is alarming to note that the Delta State government has initiated and secured the approval of the House of Assembly to obtain a humongous loan of N150 billion.
“Curiously, this loan has been approved just few weeks to the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is rumoured to have a vice presidential ambition.
We are, therefore, constrained to ask: What is the purpose of this loan? “In recent times, it has become a practice for state governments to obtain huge loans under the guise of public interest but subsequently divert same into private pockets. We recall that just few months ago, the Kogi State government obtained a similar loan with a view to paying workers’ pension/salary but subsequently diverted it into a private account.
It took the intervention of your Commission before the money could be returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria. “It is on the basis of the foregoing that we believe that the N150 billion loan sought to be obtained by the Delta State government is an attempt at last minute looting.
Sadly, the House of Assembly who should ordinarily investigate this loan and protect the citizens is in bed with the executive arm and has turned a blind spot.
“We, therefore, call on you to investigate this loan, trace the money and ensure that same is not channeled towards any purpose other than people’s-oriented projects.” Meanwhile, the State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa had on Thursday at the quarterly media briefing at the Press Centre, Government House, Asaba, said that the N150 billion “Bridging Finance” facility was not a fresh loan but an advance from N270 billion that the Federal Government is owing the State.
He added that the N150 billion had been tied to projects embarked upon by his administration and his predecessor, thereby accusing those questioning the approval of ignorance and lack of credible information.