GOVERNOR Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has revealed that his administration has uncovered hidden debt totalling about N50bn ($131m) left behind by the previous regime of Governor Ibikunle Amosun that was not officially accounted for.
In 2019, the administrations changed in Ogun State following the end of Governor Ibikunle’s second tenure and the subsequent election of Governor Abiodun. However, the handover has not been as smooth as it could have been with the current administration revealing that it took a lot of diligence to discover the hidden sums.
According to Governor Abiodun, the figures given to it by Amosun’s administration did not capture the entire liabilities it left behind when the former governor left office in 2019. Kunle Somorin, Governor Abiodun’s spokesman, claimed that not less than N50bn in financial liabilities were not accounted for in the financial report handed over to him in May 2019.
This was in response to a report by the Debt Management Office (DMO) which stated that the Ogun State government incurred N58bn domestic debt within the period of his administration. It revealed that the Dapo Abiodun-led administration borrowed N58bn as domestic debt during its first 18 months in office.
According to the Ogun State government, the recent report by the DMO showed that the omitted figures by the immediate past administration in the state on the domestic debt had an impact on its finances. Mr Somorin said: “We only got to know about this amount in the course of our carrying out due diligence on Ogun State finances shortly after we took over.
“As a transparent government committed to being accountable, we had to disclose this for the first time to give a true picture of the state’s indebtedness. Governor Dapo Abiodun has started paying the retirees and pensioners affected, with the first tranche of N500m paid to them last month and every quarter, the governor has promised to pay them at least N500m until everyone is paid.
“The increase in the 2020 total debt of the state was due to an undisclosed gratuity and staff liabilities of about N50bn not recognised in the state financial statements in May 2019 at the end of the previous administration. In order to show the complete picture of all state liabilities, the current administration booked the gratuities and staff liabilities in the financial statements of the state hence the increase.
“Residents and citizens of the state can attest to how Governor Abiodun is completing all the abandoned projects of his predecessor and commencing signature projects and roads. The governor has concentrated on his Building Our Future Together with special attention to infrastructure, health, education and agriculture.