The six South-South states in Nigeria are owing more than N988 billion in domestic debts as well as $873.3 million as of December 2021.
Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Muruako disclosed this in his address in Calabar during a two-day sensitisation programme and workshop on transparency and accountability.
“An analysis of fiscal fundamentals of states of the South-South geopolitical zone, as of December 31, 2021, reveals a total domestic debt of N988.06 billion and total foreign debt of $873.3 million. ”
The FRC boss was represented by a director in the ministry, Zelani Mohammed.
Charging the states to do more to reduce their debts and also generate internally generated revenues (IGR), the FRC boss offered to help the states that would approach them in any technical areas in keeping with the Act that established it.
“While the statistics can have different interpretations, it is clear that with a population of over 33 million people, which is larger than that of our closest anglophone neighbour, Ghana (31.73 million), it goes without saying that the region is punching below its strategic capabilities in key areas.
” We can do more by way of capital expenditure. We can improve fiscal sustainability. The Commission is glad to work with any State that wants help. As a matter of fact, the Act setting up the Commission mandates us to offer such technical assistance,” he said.
He advised state governments to sustain platforms for advice and questions on public finance management from their citizens because, in the abundance of advice, there is safety.
He encouraged citizens and civil society organisations to take advantage of Section 51 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to ask relevant questions.
Speaking at the event, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Cross River State, Tanko Ashang said fiscal responsibility is very core in a democracy.
Chairman of Akwa Ibom State House committee on public accountability, Dr Charity Ndon transparency and accountability in public funds are critical and that as it is, it is not going to be business as usual.
Speaking, too, Head of Extractive Industry in the Fraud Section of EFCC, Danladi Daniel said his commission will work with the FRC on the area of common interests to ensure the resources of the country are properly utilized for the good of the citizenry.