Desist from granting loans to Okowa, Delta youths warn banks

Ebenezer Adurokiya

Youths drawn from several civil society organizations (CSOs) on Monday cautioned commercial banks to desist from giving out more loans to the government of Delta State.

The youths gave the warning during a protest against the recent N120 billion loan request reportedly made by the state government.

The protest led to the barricading of the Federal Junction section of the busy East-West Road thereby disrupting vehicular movement for the better part of Monday.

The protesters accused the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led government of mortgaging the future Deltans yet unborn, considering the high debt profile of the state.

Armed with placards with inscriptions including, “don’t mortgage Delta,” “We say no to N120B loan.”

They insisted that the concerned commercial banks who refuse to stop giving out loan requrequeststhe Okowa government would be doing so at their l, as the state will not pay back.

One of the protesters and president of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Youth wing, Comrade Kelly Umukoro, said “we have seen that the present state government wants to sell us for the future of their children and themselves.

“You have few months to leave government, and you are borrowing another N120 billion.

“Is it that we are sponsoring Okowa’s ambition to be vice president of Niger with Delta state money?

“Did we have any meeting as Deltans to say we want to use our treasury to sponsor Gov. Okowa who has not been able to improve the lives of Deltans?

“No infrastructure, for eight years you have been able to do one flyover and you are celebrating it.

“What does he need this money for? The answer is simple, he needs it to oil his vice presidential ambition.

“As critical stakeholders, we are saying No! never. We are saying our children cannot pay debt that was not used by their fathers.

“Okowa should pity us. Delta owns a State University in Abraka, the and school fee was increased.

“Delta State University is like a private university where students pay N250,000.

“With all the ways of getting money, the governor is still interested in taking more loans.

“As Deltans, we are saying any bank that gives a loan to Okowa is doing that at their moment. If they are doing a giveaway, they should make it clear.

“We are not going to pay. We are demanding that banks should not give Okowa any more loans because the money in his coffers, he has not been able to use it judiciously.”

Another protester, Onoriode Emmanuel, expressed dissatisfaction with the level of development in the state.

He noted that despite the huge loans collected, there are no tangible projects to show.

The youth leader described the Delta State House of Assembly as being a rubber stamp, as they easily approve every loan sought by the state executive.

On his part, the president of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Prince Kehinde Taiga, noted that despite huge allocations to the state, as well as internally generated revenues, the state is still underdeveloped.

“We are not politicians, but we are here to protect the rights of Deltans. We see that our governor has metamorphosed from democracy to bureaucracy and we cannot fold our hands.

“That is why we are here to demonstrate capacity and perform our obligation as citizens of Nigerians the only way we can.

“We are here to tell the government that we cannot be under the underdevelopment that we are in. We have a lot of money coming from the Federal Government, internal revenue, DESOPADEC and others but we hear ever every day that our governor keeps borrowing money.

“The reason the governor is having his way is that we have a rubber-stamp speaker that is always enthused to the governor.

“We cannot elect someone that is not an intellectual; we cannot elect somebody that is an empty brain,” he averred.

Meanwhile, the state government, through the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said the loan recently approved by the State House Assembly was not a fresh one.

Aniagwu explained that it was only N20 billion from N120 billion that was approved by the legislature that is a fresh loan, saying the previous loan arranger pulled out of the earlier arrangement.

He added that the loans were tied to specific projects which will engender rapid development in the state.

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