Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State and his rival in the upcoming elections, Osagie Ize-Iyamu have been engaged in a war of words over the move by Edo State government to borrow N20 billion from the capital market.
To further exacerbate the situation, a coalition, Joint Forces for the Defence of Democracy (JOFDES) has rejected the move.
This was contained in a statement issued by the leaders of the group, Felix Osewmengie Isere, and Marxist Kola Edokpayi. Equally important, the statement was issued during a protest rally round major streets in Benin City on Tuesday, July 14.
The group lamented that the state government has no justification to acquire another N20 billion loan; noting that it will become a lasting yoke on the good people of the state.
In the words of the group, “just a few weeks to the state governorship election; the governor is making a desperate attempt to secure another loan from the stock market exchange.
“The most shocking part of it is that Mr. Obaseki is considering these loans when Edo State is currently servicing the $150 million credit obtained from the world bank.
“Edo State domestic debt profile stands at N84.76 billion. We have the highest domestic debt in Nigeria, second only to Lagos State. We have the highest external debt in the entire South-South with an external debt of $257.92 million as of March 2020.”
Further, the group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the loan from being approved for the governor of Edo State.
Meanwhile, in a twist of events, Obaseki has accused the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC); Ize-Iyamu of sponsoring the protest to distract Edo people.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, in a statement; advised Ize-Iyamu, to go to court and face his corruption trial instead of sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“In a bid to distract Edo people from his ongoing trial in court for a N700 million fraud allegation, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has resorted to sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“There is no such thing as N20 billion debt proposal by the Edo State Government; and Edo people cannot be distracted by such wild claim.
“It is ridiculous that on a day the APC candidate is billed to appear in court after several efforts on his part to stall his prosecution; he comes up with a bogus claim of a non-existent debt proposal, and pay people to put up a protest around the court premises.”