Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has disclosed that his administration has borrowed N53.5 billion since inception.
He made the disclosure separately at Katsina-Ala, Gboko, Adikpo and Vandeikya during his on-going town hall meetings with stakeholders across the state.
Governor Ortom explained that when he took office he inherited a deficit treasury and had to borrow N10 billion to pay May and June, 2015 salaries and facilitate take off of his administration.
According to him, the Federal Government offered the state loans of N28 and N10 billion respectively to clear four months salary arrears at the state and local government levels as well as provide critical infrastructure.
He stated that his administration also took a N5.5 billion facility to pay counterpart funding for joint projects with development partners including the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, which matched the N3.8 billion the state paid with an equal amount bringing the total amount to N7.6 billion for investment into primary schools.
The Governor said some of the partners include Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, FADAMA 1, 2 and 3 as well as others who have embarked on numerous projects in the state.
He said the payment of counterpart funds has also enabled the state to access N2.4 billion for conditional grant projects of the Millennium Development Goals, MDG/SDG in the social services and economic sectors across the state while 116 water projects were being executed through the Benue State Rural Water and Sanitation Agency, BERWASSA in four council areas.
Governor Ortom debunked reports that he had borrowed over N100 billion within one yearsaying all the loans he took were in the interest of the state and have been judiciously utilized