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By Igboeli  Arinze

 

I will give it to Soludo, his administration has been in the news for a number of wrong and right reasons! If it is not the news that the state’s finances are in a very poor shape then it is for the botched teachers recruitment exercise where the commissioner described teachers who attended the interview as “stupid and filthy”. There is also the issue of the new tax regimes imposed on the ordinary Anambra citizen which has seen Soludo like the biblical Rehoboam impose stinging like levies and rates on market men and women as well as transport operators across the state in a time when the average citizen is presently battling with inflation and the rapidly rising increase in prices of goods and services. But then before they call me a trouble shooter and perennial nay sayer, the Soludo administration has also done some good, its urban renewal programmes seem to be well intended , even though for reasons best known to the administration mountainous refuse dumps which have sprung up all over the state have continued to defy such a programme, also his drive to block all leakages to the state’s internally generated revenue by attempting to digitalize payments made to the state’s coffers deserves some commendation.

Recently Governor Soludo had written to the Anambra State House of Assembly seeking approval to secure a N100 billion Global Limit Multiple Term Loan Facility for the construction and refurbishment of key infrastructure in the state. As I write this piece, the House of Assembly, typical of a classical example of rubber stamp legislature has granted the approval. This will obviously mean that the Soludo administration will get the money and nothing much can be done about it but for the sake of posterity, a number of us will still add our voices to the loan request because we are involved. I had expected the Dr. Uche Okafor led assembly to raise a number of questions concerning the loan request, perhaps institute public hearings on the matter and weigh the pros and cons of such a request.
This is not to say that I am against the loan request, no, I do not belong to the ignorant tribe that sees or views any topic broaching on loans by government for development as evil. Loans taken for development or to prop up production of properly managed and utilized will naturally spur development, the challenge then lies much in the intention of such a loan and much more importantly its utilization as our history is rife with a number of debt burdens arising from the non utilization of loans earlier taken.
How a state house of assembly can speedily grant such an approval without a clear description and roadmap for the number
of projects the administration seeks to deliver using the loan remains questionable. What are the specific projects targeted by the administration for such a loan? How many roads are we looking at? How many bridges? Which local governments, towns and communities will benefit from such utilization of the loan? For accountability sake, did these factors not matter? How then do we scrutinize the utilization of the loan? How then do we monitor its deployment ?
Again, will such an infrastructural drive cater for the challenges of urbanization such as the creation of jobs, density of housing and the cost efficient transport solutions. Will such an agglomeration of projects correlate with the reduction of poverty in these areas targeted?
There are also unanswered questions about the loan’s interest rate, will it be at single or double digit rates? What about its duration and the likely deductions that will come in the name of servicing such a debt? When will the funds meant for repayment probably emerge from?
Lastly, the fact that the state house of assembly speedily approved such a request in less than two weeks, when we are not at war or in some sort of emergency situation is indeed baffling, should anything go wrong with such a loan then I believe that this state house
of assembly should be prepared to bear full responsibility but in a democracy like ours do they understand the meaning of such.
Come to think of it, is this not the same Soludo that confidently announced in his baritone voice against all known logic and prisms of stark reality that “it wasn’t broken yet in Anambra” What has changed ? Why is he then seeking such a loan ? Surely the administration he made such lofty comments about, which was that of his predecessor , Governor Willie Obiano ought to have left a humongous amount of money for Soludo to play with and not a debt profile of over N100 Bn.
Finally, Soludo will likely have to contend with posterity. He has yet a golden opportunity to place Anambra on the pedestal of development and I pray he does such because whether he succeeds or fails we all will be involved .
Tags : #AnambraState#IgboeliArinzeAnambra TimesProfessor Charles Chukwuma Soludo

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