Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, says Adams Oshiomhole, his predecessor, borrowed recklessly when he was in power.
The duo fell apart over political differences and this led to the defection of the governor from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he is seeking re-election.
At the governorship election debate organised by Channels Television on Sunday, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the APC, accused Obaseki of taking huge loans with nothing to show for it.
But reacting, Obaseki said a larger part of the loan was taken when Oshiomhole was governor of the state.
“In terms of debt, we have not taken that proportion of debt as a government since 2016. What happened is that my predecessor borrowed recklessly and the federal government had to restructure all the debts which were taken before I came into office and this included the whole series of bank borrowings, the borrowings to pay salaries,” he said.
“So, the federal government restructured outstanding obligation to Edo state to the tune of almost N30 billion. That is what is responsible to adding to the debt stock, not the borrowings from this administration.
“And what people even don’t know is that there were unpaid debts to contractors up to the tune of N60 to N70 billion. So, with a debt burden of more than N120 billion, we’ve been able to service and still ensure that we undertake economic projects. But is it sustainable? Coming from a finance background, it’s not the quantum of debt, it’s what you use the debt to procure.
“So, as long as you able to invest your borrowings productively and ensure growth in the economy, then you have enough income to pay back on a sustainable basis.”
Countering the governor, Ize-Iyamu said “it’s scandalous to attribute the huge debt to a predecessor that your were his chief economic adviser.”
He said the governor seemed to forget the role he played in the past government.
The APC candidate said the loans the governor took especially in the agricultural sector have not made any impact.
“In the oil palm project, you’ve collected N69 billion and the money has been shared to cronies. No Edo person has benefited from that project,” he said.
The governorship election is scheduled for Saturday.