Delta’s debt burden highest among South-south states – DMO
The domestic debt burden of Delta State is the highest compared to other states in the South-south region of Nigeria, according to data from the Debt Management Office (DMO).
The DMO published the domestic and external debts profile of Nigeria’s 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory on 23 June and 30 March, respectively.
The data shows the profiles of the sub-national’s domestic debts as of 31 March and external debts as of 31 December 2022.
With N421.8 billion in domestic debts, Delta is the most indebted state in the South-south region. The state ranked second nationally, after Lagos State. Regarding external debts, Delta, with $59.9 million, occupies the fifth position in the South-south region.
Lagos State is the most indebted state in the country for both domestic and external debts. Lagos has a domestic debt profile of N812.4 billion and external debts of $1.3 billion.
Rivers close in on Delta State
Rivers State, the largest economy in the South-south and second in the country after Lagos in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is the second most indebted state in the South-south, with N225.5 billion as domestic debt.
The Rivers’ domestic debt profile is as of September 2022, according to the DMO data.
With an external debt of $87.1 million, the state is placed third in the region after Edo and Cross River States.
However, with the recent N200 billion loan request approved by the state Assembly for Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Rivers may overtake Delta State as the most indebted state in the region.
Akwa Ibom State, in terms of GDP, is the third largest economy in the country after Lagos and Rivers States.
Akwa Ibom has a domestic debt of N206.6 billion, third in the region and an external debt of $44.9 million, the lowest (sixth) among the South-south states.
Cross River and Bayelsa States occupy the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, among states with the highest domestic debts in the region. Cross River has a domestic debt of N196.3 billion, while Bayelsa’s domestic debt is N140 billion.
However, with $209.5 million, Cross River has the second-largest external debt in the region after Edo, while Bayelsa, with $60.4 million, has the fourth-largest external debt.
Edo State, with N126.4 billion, has the lowest domestic debts in the region. However, with $261.4 million, the state has the largest external debt among the South-south states and occupies the third position in the country after Lagos ($1.3b) and Kaduna State ($573.7m).
Jigawa State (N43.6 billion) has the lowest domestic debt in the country, while Borno State ($ 18.1 million) has the lowest external debt.
I inherited huge debts from my predecessors – Okowa
Speaking on the huge debt burden in March 2023, two months before he handed over to the incumbent governor, former Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said a substantial amount of the state’s present debts were inherited by his administration from previous governments.
Speaking during an interview with Arise Television, Okowa, who also thanked the people of the state for voting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this year’s governorship election, said, “what we have done is to peg down the debt to a reasonable level.”
“By the time we came in, it was quite tough and we couldn’t pay salaries. What we did then, all governments in the country, restructured the debts of their states. We worked with the federal government and restructured those debts to about 30 years.
“So, that debt has over the past eight years has been paid down to where you have it at the moment and it has been going down remarkably and the next government is going to continue repaying. It was not done for Delta alone, it was done for all the states,” he explained.
Okowa also faulted some of the economic statistics about the state that were being bandied around, insisting that his government had taken a lot of youths out of the streets and unemployment through various technical and vocational programmes.
He said: “In the last eight years, we have done our best considering the difficulties. All that we have done in terms of development, the roads, healthcare, free healthcare for mothers, schools and the fact that we inaugurated three universities, the people are quite excited, in addition to several entrepreneurial programmes to empower the youths, really touched the heart of the people.
He stated that his successor, Mr Sheriff Oborevwori understands his administration’s programme “and knows the foundation of our policies, would continue to build on it and build on it and introduce new programmes.”
“The main thing is that he is not going to learn on the job. So, he would seamlessly come into office and we shall continue to pray for him and pray that all that supported me would support him,” Okowa added.