Okai Fears Kogi Governor Will Divert $100m AfDB Loan

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A rights activist, Comrade Usman Okai Austin, has expressed fear that the recently approved $100 million loan by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the purpose of funding Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in Kogi state may likely be diverted by the state governor, Yahaya Bello.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, Okai alleged the fear is premised on feelers that Bello’s presidential campaign is cash strapped.

He argued that similar interventions that has been accessed by the state in the past were squandered without accountability.

“Prominent among them is the first and second tranches of the over N30 billion London-Paris Club refunds to state as bailout fund budget support, and the sum of N10.069 billion for Kogi State Government for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government. Also, the N50.8 billion bailout fund from Federal Government specifically meant to offset salary arrears before 2016 was equally mismanaged.

“Governor Yahaha Bello is at the lowest ebb of his administration without any reasonable or provable project to justify the billions he has received, despite paying half salary to workers at state level, and percentage to the local government workers,” he said.

Okai called on other citizens of the state not to keep quiet while Bello plunge the state into further debts, which is an automatic burden on future administrations in the state.

“Borrowing is not the problem, but diversion of the funds. Since he declared his ambition to be president in 2023, Bello has turned the state to an automated teller machine (ATM) for all manner of celebrities, with the intention of endorsing him as Buhari’s successor. All these at the expenses of the state finance.”

“Recall that the Kogi state government announced that it has secured a $100 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the purpose of funding Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in Kogi.

This was disclosed in a statement by Commissioner for Finance, Mr Asiru Idris, in Lokoja on Tuesday.

The Commissioner added that the project will be a boost to improving production and employment in the state for 2 million people and also open the state up for private investments, citing that 280 hectares of land would be acquired in 5 local governments for the scheme

“The project will create employment for two million people in the state and by extension, curb poverty, reduce youth restiveness and open doors for private investors,” he said.

He also added that the scheme would be beneficial for both farmers and processors which will also be an advantage for distributors in the state as transport costs will also be reduced.

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