The Joint Forces for the Defence of Democracy (JOFDES) in Edo, on Tuesday protested against Gov. Godwin Obaseki’s alleged attempt to obtain another N20 billion loan from the Nigeria capital market.
Mr Osemwengie Isere, who led the protests to the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo Council, Benin, said that the move was an attempt to mortgage the future of the state.
Isere said: “first, Edo’s domestic debt profile stands at N84.76 billion; secondly, we have the highest domestic debt in Nigeria next to Lagos.
“We have the highest external debt in the entire South-South amounting to $257.92 million as at March 2020.
“Apart from the few renovations of already existing infrastructure, we have not seen any landmark or gigantic projects the government has done with the funds accruing to the state.
“We, therefore, find no justification for the government’s desire to acquire another N20 billion loan few weeks to the governorship elections in the state,” Isere said.
In his reaction, Mr Crusoe Osagie, the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, said that there was no such thing as N20 billion loan proposal by the Edo Government.
Osagie said: “Edo people cannot be distracted by such a wild claim.
“We advise the All Progressives Congress gubernatorial candidate to go to court and face his corruption trial, instead of sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“In a bid to distract the Edo people from his ongoing trial in court for a N700 million fraud allegation, the candidate of the APC has resorted to sponsoring protests over non-existent issues.
“Edo people are too intelligent to be swayed by such tantrums and staged drama of the absurd being displayed by the sponsored protesters.”
Mr John Mayaki, the Chairman, Edo APC Media Campaign Council and Spokesman for Pastor Ize-Iyamu, said: “We do not sponsor protests and we do not claim to control the minds of the Edo people.
“Once again, the government is trying to deflect attention and distract the people and the press from the real issues,” Mayaki said.