THE plan of the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to take the second tranche of the $225 million World Bank soft loan approved for the state under the former Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration is generating furore. The state had collected the first tranche of $75 million in 2012.Specifically, the second tranche is to be used to improve public financial management, increase private investment in land and significantly improve the quality of the state’s education system.
Some interests in the state have, however, taken a strong exception to this credit facility on account of what they described as the state’s rising indebtedness, the fear that the money would be frittered away, and the fact that the tenure of Oshiomhole will come to an end in July next year.
The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Dan Orbih, articulated his party’s objection to the loan request at a press conference in Abuja recently, and called on the Senate not to approve it. But the state government, through the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Louis Odion, insisted that Edo was religiously servicing all its previous loans without any problems.
Although the Senate has since approved the loan request following a request by President Muhammadu Buhari, we advise the Edo authorities to properly inform the people of the state about the exact uses to which the money will be put, to get their cooperation on the matter.
The fears expressed by opposition parties over the utilisation of this loan, and Oshiomhole’s tenure which is expiring in July next year, appears somewhat misplaced. This is because government, anywhere in the world, is a continuum. When one government goes, another will come and continue where the previous one stopped. Besides, the almost one year that Oshiomhole will still spend in office is enough to see the projects through.
Since this loan is for developmental projects that will benefit the ordinary people of the state, and the governor’s management of the first tranche of the loan, or other public funds, has not been called to question, we think he ought to be given the benefit of doubt that he would use the second tranche of the loan in the best interest of Edo people. There is, therefore, no need to play politics with this matter.
Instead of the controversy over this loan, we advise the opposition in the state to offer constructive suggestions on how to execute projects for which it is being taken, to move the state forward.
The approval of the loan by the Senate last Thursday should be allowed to lay this controversy to rest. We believe the upper legislative chamber must have been guided by the affirmation of the World Bank that the loan was well within the ability of the state to repay, and the belief that the state must have satisfactorily utilised the first tranche of the loan to get the approval of the World Bank for the second tranche.
We appreciate the need for vigilance by all Nigerians, which is probably behind the protests of the opposition parties in the state. But then, criticisms of government’s activities must be constructive, otherwise they will be anti-development, and against the interest of the people.
The World Bank would certainly not have approved this second tranche of the loan if the first one was not well utilised. The conditions for accessing such loans are usually quite stringent, and the bank ensures adequate oversight and project monitoring that do not give room for misusing its loans. It is necessary to point out that there is nothing wrong with taking of loans for developmental projects, as long as they are used for the intended purposes, and they are serviced as due. This loan, in particular, was approved by the Jonathan administration for both Lagos and Edo States, and should not be sacrificed on the altar of politics.
The state authorities should fully carry the people along on the projects to be funded with the facility. The opposition in the state, on the other hand, should diligently play its role of ensuring that the loan is used for the intended projects, and properly serviced, so that it does not become a problem for the state.