150 BILLION LOAN: CALL TO PREVENT BAREFACED CORRUPTION, ABUSE OF OFFICE AND UNPRECEDENTED SQUANDEMANIA BY THE DELTA STATE GOVERNMENT IN ITS 150 BILLION NAIRA LOAN DEAL WITH ZENITH BANK.

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1. The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) calls on the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to urgently investigate the circumstances surrounding the initiation and approval of the Delta State Government collecting the loan sum of N150 Billion Naira from Zenith Bank. The said transaction has been widely reported in the media.

2. The whole idea of the Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration now in its twilight of barely a year to end, to choose to collect such a huge loan which was swiftly approved with a strange unanimity by the Delta State House of Assembly, in an election preparatory year, possesses all the vestiges of a corrupt scheme to put the money into the pockets of unscrupulous politicians to buy the votes of delegate and voters in the coming party primaries and general elections, respectively.

3. Seven years of the eight-year tenure of the Governor Okowa led administration have passed and it is in its last year that it considered that it should take such a huge loan for which it would not be responsible for repaying. This is nothing m a grand plan between the unscrupulous elements in the Okowa led administration with the irresponsible leadership of the Delta State House of Assembly in an unholy collaboration with Zenith Bank is to plunge Delta State into a blackhole of debts with insidiously wicked interest rates that Delta State may never recover from, just to raise money between and among private bankers and politicians to fund elections. This is unacceptable!

4. This loan arrangement between the Delta State Government and Zenith Bank is not in the interest of the people of Delta State. It would only benefit Zenith Bank officials and the state politicians who would literally share the money among themselves through phantom and non-existent contracts for services.

5. To impose such a huge loan on a state that is already overburdened by debts taken by this same administration of Governor Okowa is economic suicide and it would not take long before the State becomes too broke that it would not be able to pay salaries of its workers.

6. Delta State is a major oil producing state that ranks as one of the highest revenue collectors from the Federation Account yet there is no commensurate development in the last seven years to justify its high revenues. Poverty and unemployment have been fast on the increase while infrastructural development has been abysmal with substandard execution of contracts to the detriment of the people of the state who don’t get real value for such public expenditure. It is now that Governor Okowa wants to take a loan to perform in one year the magic that he couldn’t do within seven years. We reiterate that the only goal of taking the loan is self-aggrandizement by politicians and private bankers to the detriment of the people of the state. What wickedness!

7. We would want to emphasise that the principal role of an anti-corruption agency like the EFCC is to prevent the commission of corruption and financial crimes (before they ever happen in the first place). It has proven to be counterproductive that agencies like the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) would oftentimes spend huge resources to chase, arrest, investigate and prosecute corrupt government officials after they have wrecked disastrous plunder of public resources whereas, these anti-corruption agencies could have prevented such humongous stealing and abuse of public only if they heeded early warnings on timely notes. Prevention would always be better than cure!

8. Therefore, we urge so strong that the EFCC should move so swiftly to ensure that the highly suspicious loan arrangement is immediately put on hold pending the application of a due diligence analysis by the EFCC before the loan money is disbursed.

9. We call on the EFCC to save the people of Delta State from themselves as they appear not to be able to help themselves at the moment. They appear held captive by insensitive politicians they claim to have voted into political power. The majority of the people of Delta State are in a state of stupor, apparently bewitched and terrorized by fear and poverty that they are unable to criticize their state government.

10. Whereas we have it on good authority that the public debate on whether to take the loan was scheduled for the 10th of May 2022, the members of the Delta State House of Assembly proceeded to secretly debate the loan and unanimously approved it on the 26th of April 2022. Thus the Delta State people were not even allowed to make input on a decision of the government that would affect them and their generation unborn.

11. It is the same scenario as the above that played out when this same administration of Governor Okowa decided to literally sell the state-owned airport in the name of concessioning for mere pittances after billions of naira in hard-earned state revenue was used to build the airport. That in itself is another subject matter for investigation.

12. The EFCC should not be tired but should in the interest of the future of Nigeria and the betterment of its people, strive to build a country that is not overtaken by corruption but marked with responsible leadership that puts the interest and future wellbeing of the people first and above others.

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