From Aniekan Aniekan, Calabar

Cross River State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu, has denied taking nor signing any fresh loan, both domestic and foreign, since the inception of his administration on May 29, 2023 till date.

His reaction follows the worrisome figures presented on the spreadsheet of the Debt Management Office (DMO) and posted on their website.

The same figure from the DMO is what a national relied upon, analysed, and reported on their Sunday, March 31, 2024 edition.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Nsa Gill, Governor Otu wondered how the DMO arrived at N220.2 billion as the domestic debt profile of Cross River State as of December 2023, up from N204.04 billion posted for the state as of June 30th, 2023.

The difference in the figures, subtracting N204billion from N220.2billion is the purported N16.2billion reported as a fresh domestic loan allegedly obtained by Governor Bassey Otu’s administration. “This is not true. There’s no record in the annals of the State government that suggests that fresh borrowing was undertaken; since the  inception of the present administration till date; both domestic and foreign debt.”

“We challenge any person, including the DMO, who has evidence of any fresh loan taken under the administration of Governor Bassey Otu to make that Public,” the Governor’s Spokesman said.

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He noted that Fresh loans take processes including seeking legislative approvals. “The governor has not signed nor taken in a fresh loan on behalf of the state.”

He quoted the Governor also as saying, “Anyone in doubt of our position can make findings with the state legislature and even to the DMO. I have taken up the matter with the DMO and they have denied knowledge of any fresh loan under the current administration”.

Governor Otu frowns on the misinformation portraying fresh borrowing and demands scrutiny of the figures posted by the DMO.

“It is also pertinent that the media and the general public understand that the dynamics of DMO debt profile spreadsheets includes the principal amount plus interest over time as well as other variables that may have been made available to the DMO; such as judgment debts, contract debts, garnishee orders, etc. in this case, Cross River State Government vehemently rebukes any interest calculation or any surreptitious calculation that portrays the government to have increased her domestic debt profile by borrowing N16.2billion within June 2023 to December 2023.  And the taking Foreign debt amounting to $57.9million within the same period.

“We would like to reiterate that, Senator Bassey Edet Otu’s “People First” administration has promised the good people of Cross River State a very financially responsible leadership and will not borrow except for very critical and fiscally responsible reasons in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.

Moreso, the Governor has directed the Commissioner for Finance in the state to take up the DMO on the figures and ensure clear explanations are given on the published figures which are untrue and unacceptable.