Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom has give his assurance that the N18.5 billion loan approved for states by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will be judiciously applied.
On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a fresh N656billion Bridge Financing Facility to the 36 States.
The approval, which would have each state receive N18.2B, is in a bid to help State governments meet financial obligations, especially the previous budget support facility due for repayment.
This was disclosed on Thursday at the 121st meeting (10th in 2021) of the National Economic Council, which was held virtually and was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Governors, Federal Ministers, the CBN and other senior government officials in attended the meeting.
The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, informed the Council that the Bridge Facility is now being processed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The bridge facility of N656.112billion would be disbursed in six tranches over a period of six months to the States.
Each of the 36 States will have a total loan amount of N18.225billion; with a 30-year tenor, and a 2-year moratorium at an interest rate of 9%.
The facility is to help the states to repay previous bailout facilities guaranteed for them by the Federal Government.
It would be recalled that on 15th of July, 2021, the Council had received updates on the Budget Support Facility to States. At that meeting, the Finance Minister had informed the Council that the deductions from State Governments would commence soon as repayment for the previous bailout from the CBN. Subsequently, the States sought further support leading to the idea of bridge financing.
Meanwhile, while interacting with journalists Friday, on his return from Abuja, Governor Ortom acknowledged economic challenges faced by states of the federation including the Federal Government which has led to borrowing of trillions of naira.
He disclosed that the State Executive Council would meet to deliberate to take appropriate decisions on application of the loan, expressing the hope that the money will add value to the development of the state.
Governor Ortom said Benue is running a deficit budget, pointing out that his administration is also paying loans taken by previous administrations in the state and previous military administrations in the state.
While responding to further questions from journalists, Governor Ortom said though he is opposed to direct primaries because it is more expensive to conduct, he is law-abiding and will abide by it if assented to by the President.
Governor Ortom who also threw light on the garnishee orders against the state government said efforts are being made to resolve all issues concerning the garnishee orders from the Federal High Court Abuja and the FCT Court.