In a press statement in Benin City with the title “Stop the Ostrich Game: Governors Can Change the Narrative of Development.” Mr. Taiwo Akerele, the Technical Adviser for the Federal Government on post COVID-19 Economic Recovery, says the state governments in Nigeria are responsible for the majority of the development challenges that the country faces. He stated that the state governments were responsible for 35 percent of the current debt profile of Nigeria, in addition to jointly being responsible for 30 percent of that debt with the federal government.
Akerele, who has formerly served in the capacity of the Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki of Edo State, stated that he has witnessed with amazement how many of the state governors, particularly those in the opposing party, have continuously piled up the blame of underdevelopment of the country on the federal government, and even more so in the sectors of health and education and in more recent times the rapidly increasing debt crisis in the country.
With debt rising, Nigeria has failed already – a southern-state governor.
Concerning the issue of the country’s debt margin, a governor from one of the southern states was recently quoted as saying that Nigeria’s debt is slowly creeping close to N60 trillion (about $134 billion), and he came to the conclusion that Nigeria has failed already. However, Akerele placed the blame on state governors, particularly those who were elected from political parties that were in opposition to the administration, for the shortcomings in the delivery of healthcare and the infrastructure of roads.
Responding to the governor’s quote, he said his role as a policy analyst does not require him to verify or disprove his claims, which are instead the responsibility of the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). However, he affirmed that he had been under the impression that the same governor would go ahead and state in unequivocal terms his own state’s share of the debt burden as well as what the state has accomplished with the money for the purpose it was approved for. Unfortunately, he once again chose to ignore the issue at hand.
Akerele counters the governor’s claim and reassures the government effort.
Furthermore, according to Akerele, he revealed that statistical data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) show evidence that only 35 percent of the total country’s debts did belong to the federal government, and around 35 percent of it is owned by the 36 states, while the outstanding 30 percent of the debt is jointly owned by them, particularly borrowings that are related to COVID-19 recovery and immunization and budget support instruments.
The DMO also revealed that the Federal Government, as of the second quarter of 2022, was unable to obtain any foreign loans. Having said all those as the south governor’s claim, he said if this is the case, then on what basis could a state governor, most especially one from the opposition party, firmly throw the debt issue of the country on the foot of the federal government for raising the Nigerian population? He asked.
30% of Nigeria’s health care needs are funded by the federal government.
Moreover, he added that he is open to being corrected; however, the data that is currently available reveals that 70% of the healthcare requirements of Nigerians fall within the scope of the primary healthcare (LGA) as well as secondary healthcare (state); the remaining 30 percent of the health care needs are met by what is known as Tertiary Centers, which include Teaching and Specialist hospitals, and has primarily been funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria.