A spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign, Daniel Bwala, has reported that former Lagos State governor and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, left a foreign debt of over $1bn when he ended his tenure in 2007.
In a tweet via his Twitter handle, @BwalaDaniel, Bwala over the weekend tweeted, “Let’s face it, if you take out colonial, FGN infrastructure and investments, and FDI agreement with Nigeria to invest in Lagos, Peter Obi did better than Tinubu as a governor; at least he saved billions, whilst Tinubu left a foreign debt burden of over $1B behind. Go and verify.”
The tweet had gained over 1,000 likes and had been retweeted over 700 times.
Information from the Debt Management Office (DMO) revealed that the federal and state governments’ External Debt Stock as of June 30, 2016 was $11,261,887,684.00 with the Federal Government’s share of the debt portfolio standing at $7,607,500,252.76 while that of the states was $3,654,387,431.24. The three most indebted states were: Lagos with $1,431,474,719.70; Kaduna with $225,277,020.12 and Edo with $179,519,864.02. This was just the foreign debt profile.
This made the then Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to disclose that the foreign debt owed by the state government at the time, was inherited from previous administrations before his assumption of office which commenced in 2015.
Ambode, who made the explanation during an interview, noted that amidst the numerous infrastructure the state government had planned to develop, the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) did not settle for foreign options for financial support.
He also said that during his four-year tenure, his administration never obtained any foreign credit facility to manage state activities.
“Talking about Lagos State having the highest amount in terms of foreign loans, the truth is that I have it on record that in my four years, I never took any foreign loan. So, whatever it is that they are saying about having $1.43 billion is an accumulation of loans that have been taken by successive governments,” he said.
Recall that Ambode had two predecessors; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who led from 1999 to 2007 and Babatunde Raji Fashola who was governor between 2007 and 2015.
As of 31 December, 2018, reports from the DMO revealed that Lagos State’s total external debt stock stood at $1.43bn. The external debt comprised $1.28bn from multilateral sources and $143.83 million as bilateral, obtained mainly from the African Development Bank. Comparing both data, one could easily see that Lagos’ foreign debt did not increase between June 2016 and December 2018.
However, data compiled by the DMO revealing both federal and states’ external debt stock as of December 31, 2007, disclosed that Lagos State owed a total of $243,283,449.01 which is approximately as against the figure quoted by Bwala.
It should be noted that at this time, Tinubu had completed his tenure and handed over to his successor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN). The debt was from multilateral sources alone.
Available records revealed that Bwala’s tweet that Tinubu left behind a foreign debt of over $1bn as Lagos State governor is untrue.
Did Peter Obi save billions for Anambra State?
Bwala also stated that former Anambra State governor and presidential candidate of the Labor Party, Mr Peter Obi, saved billions of naira for the state before the end of his tenure.
In January last year, a statement emerged on Twitter that Obi handed over N72bn in cash and $150m in Anambra Generational Fund to his successor, Willie Obiano.
But investigations disclosed that there is no official available data or document to show that Obi handed over N72bn in cash and $150m in Anambra Generational Fund to Obiano.
While speaking with journalists in 2015, Solo Chukwulobelu, professor and secretary to Anambra State Government, said that the rumor that Peter Obi handed over N75bn to Obiano was far from the truth.
Chukwulobelu said that what Obiano’s administration inherited from Obi was N9bn cash and N26bn near cash.
While it is confirmed that Peter Obi saved billions of naira while he was governor of Anambra State as stated by Bwala, his claims that Tinubu left a debt burden of over $1bn for his successor is false.
Data obtained from the website of the Debt Management Office revealed that as of December 2017, Lagos State had only amassed a foreign debt of 243 million dollars.