Legislators of the Cross River State House of Assembly has authorized Governor Ben Ayade to access a loan facility of 5 billion naira to pension and salary arrears.
A statement signed by the information officer to State House of Assembly, Itam Offor indicated that the lawmakers gave the approval in a motion moved by the leader, Peter Odey representing Ogoja and seconded by Fred Osim of Ikom One constituencies.
Offor stated the house gave the approval after deliberating on a letter signed by Dr. Innocent Eteng, the Permanent Secretary, governor’s office, which conveyed the Governor’s request for the Assembly’s resolution to access the loan.
She added that the letter indicated that the State Government has been unable to meet its financial obligations with respect to payment of pension and other unforeseen obligations due to paucity of funds and dwindling statutory allocation from the federal Government.
According to Offor, the legislators noted that the 5-billion-naira loan would alleviate the plight of pensioners and enable Cross River continue work on all ongoing projects in the State.
She also said that the Speaker, Eteng Jonah Williams noted the preponderance of member’s opinion supported the resolution and directed the clerk of the house, Bassey Ekpenyong to convey the assembly’s approval to the Governor.
Cletus Obun, the Cross River State Vice Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, central senatorial district, in a swift reaction to the ruling described the application and approval of the 5-billion-naira loan as a vicious cycle of loan collection, which was why the Nigerian Government provided the Paris club and bailout funds for pensions and other things.
Going to get a loan to pay pension is the most irresponsible thing to do at this time. The system has to be checkmated; the Cross River House of Assembly and State Government must be held accountable and they (the legislators) have started on a wrong footing, opined Obun.
According to the former state lawmaker, Cross River is already in a position of the 10th most indebted state in Nigeria and this record has been consistent since 2004 in spite of improved revenue accruable to the state coffers.
Obun, who lamented that the loan was plunging Cross River deeper into debts, noting already we are aware that Tinapa is on the shelves for sale. The taxes of the people will be stressed; infrastructural decay will be a permanent feature in the future.
He suggested that the government should rather seek loans to revamp the moribund rubber estates, Tinapa Leisure Resort and other such venture.