The 17 newly-elected governors face an uphill task to stimulate the economies of their respective states as they will inherit at least N2.1tn in domestic debts and $1.9bn in external debts from their predecessors.
Investigations by PUNCH (not ABN TV) showed that some of the first-term governors-elect would also be confronted by many months of unpaid workers’ salaries and mounting pension liabilities amidst agitation for the implementation of the nationally agreed minimum wage, rising inflation, escalating prices of goods and services, and dwindling purchasing power.
Following the governorship election that was conducted in 28 out of the 36 states of the federation on March 18, 2023, a total of 16 governors-elect emerged to take over from their predecessors, who will complete their constitutionally approved second term in office, while a first-time governor lost his re-election bid to the candidate of an opposition party.
As of September 30, 2022, the Debt Management Office put the country’s total domestic indebtedness at N21,551,924,507,448, while foreign creditors were owed $39.66bn.
In Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, who emerged as the only governor-elect of the Labour Party, will take over from Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party on May 29 and will inherit total domestic debt of N104,573,334,025.73 and external debt of $95,632,239.04. Health workers and teachers in the state are currently owed between 10 months and 27 months’ salaries.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, will be leaving behind for his anointed successor, Umo Eno (both of them are of the PDP), N219,617,660,991.63 in domestic debt and $46,569,647.22 in external debt, provided no new debt is accumulated between September 2022 and May 28, 2023.
In Benue State, apart from unpaid salaries of between eight and 15 months, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress will take over from Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP N143,368,150,982.89 in domestic debt and $30,472,977.14 obligations to foreign creditors.
Bassey Otu, the incoming governor of Cross River State governor, will have to carry the burden of N175,198,799,155.96 and $215,754,975.33 that his predecessor, Prof Ben Ayade, will be leaving behind. Both belong to the APC.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State will be bequeathing to his successor, Sheriff Oborevwori, N272,612,510,528.95 total domestic debt and $60,046,972.41 foreign debt. Okowa was the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP in the February 25 presidential election, while Oborevwori is the Speaker of the state House of Assembly.
Francis Nwifuru of the APC will take over the rein Ebonyi State from his party man, David Umahi, and inherit N67,060,019,562.44 and $59,841,539.37 as domestic and external debts, respectively.
A similar scenario will play out in Enugu State as the outgoing governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, will hand over to his preferred successor from the PDP, Peter Mbah, total domestic debt of N89,887,652,914.75 and external debt of $123,024,888.67.
When the governor-elect of Jigawa State, Malam Umar Namadi of the APC, takes over from Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, also of the same party, he will have his work cut out with N44,406,862,432.83 owed domestic creditors and $27,611,046.36 in external debt.
Still smarting from his narrow victory in the Kaduna State governorship election, the APC’s Uba Sani will inherit from the outgoing governor, Nasir El-Rufai, domestic debt of N86,863,069,011.79, while the external debt profile of the state stood at $586,776,219.18 as of September 30, 2022.
As high as the enthusiasm and jubilation that greeted the emergence of Abba Kabir of the New Nigeria People’s Party as Kano State governor-elect are the state’s debt profile. Kabir will inherit from Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC N125,186,662,228.72 and $109,422,176.85 owed to domestic and external creditors, respectively.
In Katsina State, the transition between Governor Aminu Masari and Dr Dikko Radda should be smooth as both men belong to the ruling APC. However, the incoming governor will inherit domestic debts adding up to N62,374,809,154.32, and liabilities to foreign creditors amounting to $55,824,330.35.
While the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the Kebbi State governorship election inconclusive, what is in no doubt is the debt profile being left behind by Governor Atiku Bagudu of the APC. The state owes local contractors and others N60,131,306,074.57 and has foreign obligations totaling $42,403,327.93.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, will bequeath to his fellow APC man and successor, Umar Bago, N98,262,195,557.88 and $69,266,186.30 in domestic and external debts, respectively.
The Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, will not only hand over the reins of government to Mr Caleb Mutfwang of the opposition PDP, but he will also be leaving behind N151,903,415,543.09 in domestic debts and $33,735,927.81 in liabilities to foreign creditors.
The leader of the aggrieved PDP governors, otherwise called G5, Nyesom Wike, will hand over to his anointed successor, Siminialayi Fubara, as Rivers State governor’s domestic debt running into N225,505,011,356.00, while the DMO puts the external debt of the oil rich state at $140,177,828.95.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, who will complete his eight-year two-term tenure under the PDP on May 28, will hand over Sokoto State to Ahmed Aliyu of the APC a total of N85,584,818,029.23 in domestic debt and $37,127,361.58 foreign debt.
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, will hand over to his fellow PDP man, Kefas Agbu, domestic debt of N90,807,647,838.11 and external debt of $22,280,666.87.
Cumulatively, the 17 states, where new chief executive officers will take over on May 29, 2023 owe domestic contractors and other creditors N2,103,343,925,388.89 and foreign creditors $1,755,968,311.36.