The outgoing governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, on Sunday, passed over a state debt of N187bn to the incoming governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia.
According to The PUNCH, Ortom during his official handing over ceremony on Sunday at the Old Banquet Hall of Government House, Makurdi, stated that the debt is made up of salary arrears, loan, contractual obligations and others.
The departing governor stated in his handover message that the state earned N734.9 billion in total during the course of his eight years in office.
He continued, saying that the expense had cost N735.6 billion, while acknowledging that the state’s debt load was quite significant.
He said, “This handover note contained not only structure but activities of my eight years administration. It has sectoral briefs of the agencies, ministry and departments.
“It contains three volumes; volume one is handover of all MDAs, volume two comprises policy document of my administration, (the Benue development plan) the part b is the comprehensive briefs submitted by ministries and agencies and part three contains highlightes of debt profile and pension.
“The revenue and income from all sources; federation account, Value Added Tax, grants, loans and others stand at N734.9bn as at the end of April while the expenditure stands at N735.6bn as at the end of April.
“The indebtedness of the state, which comprises salary arrears, pension, contractual obligations and others, is N187bn.”
The outgoing governor said, “The debt situation of the state might appear on the high side but government has taken significant steps to reduce this through debt swap with the Federal Government.”
Ortom advised the new governor to take advantage of the financial resources that will soon be available to him, such as unpaid stamp duty and N61 billion in borrowing facilities from the Central Bank of Nigeria, to ensure a successful launch.