July 20, 2024

No fewer than 17 newly elected governors of Nigeria will have a difficult time boosting the economies of their individual states because they will take over at least N2.1 trillion in domestic debt and $1.9 billion in foreign debt from their predecessors.

Also, some of the first-term governors-elect will face many months of unpaid workers’ salaries and mounting pension liabilities, as well as agitation for the implementation of the nationally agreed minimum wage, rising inflation, escalating prices of goods and services, and dwindling purchasing power, according to PUNCH report.

On March 18, 2023, Nigeria held governorship elections in 28 of the 36 states of the federation, and 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 an opposition party’s candidate.

The Debt Management Office estimated the country’s total domestic indebtedness at N21,551,924,507,448 as of September 30, 2022, while foreign creditors were owed $39.66 billion.
In Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, the only Labour Party governor-elect, will take over on May 29 from Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, inheriting a total domestic debt of N104,573,334,025.73 and an external debt of $95,632,239.04. Health care workers and teachers in the state are currently owed between 10 and 27 months of pay.

Udom Emmanuel, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, will leave behind N219,617,660,991.63 in domestic debt and $46,569,647.22 in external debt for his appointed successor, Umo Eno (both are PDP members), assuming no new debt is incurred between September 2022 and May 28, 2023.

Apart from unpaid salaries ranging from eight to fifteen 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 in foreign debt in Benue State.

Bassey Otu, the incoming governor of Cross River State, will have to shoulder the burden of N175,198,799,155.96 and $215,754,975.33 left by his predecessor, Prof Ben Ayade. Both are members of the APC.

Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will leave a total domestic debt of N272,612,510,528.95 and a foreign debt of $60,046,972.41 to his successor, Sheriff Oborevwori. In the February 25 presidential election, Okowa was the PDP’s vice-presidential candidate, while Oborevwori is the Speaker of the state House of Assembly.

The APC’s Francis Nwifuru will take over the reins of Ebonyi State from his party’s David Umahi, inheriting N67,060,019,562.44 in domestic and external debts, respectively.

In Enugu State, the outgoing governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, will hand over total domestic debt of N89,887,652,914.75 and external debt of $123,024,888.67 to his preferred successor from the PDP, Peter Mbah.

Malam Umar Namadi, the APC’s governor-elect in Jigawa State, will take over from Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, also of the same party, with N44,406,862,432.83 owed domestic creditors and $27,611,046.36 owed external creditors.

Still reeling from his narrow victory in the Kaduna State governorship election, the APC’s Uba Sani will inherit a domestic debt of N86,863,069,011.79 from outgoing governor Nasir El-Rufai, while the state’s external debt profile stood at $586,776,219.18 as of September 30, 2022.

The state’s debt profile is as high as the enthusiasm and jubilation that greeted the election of Abba Kabir of the New Nigeria People’s Party as Kano State governor-elect. Kabir will inherit N125,186,662,228.72 and $109,422,176.85 owed to domestic and external creditors from APC Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

In Katsina State, the transition from Governor Aminu Masari to Dr Dikko Radda should go smoothly because both men are members of the ruling APC. However, the incoming governor will inherit N62,374,809,154.32 in domestic debts and $55,824,330.35 in liabilities to foreign creditors.

While the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the Kebbi State governorship election inconclusive, the debt profile left behind by APC Governor Atiku Bagudu is undeniable. The state owes N60,131,306,074.57 to local contractors and others, and it has foreign obligations totaling $42,403,327.93.

Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello will leave N98,262,195,557.88 and $69,266,186.30 in domestic and external debts to his fellow APC man and successor, Umar Bago.

Simon Lalong, Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Plateau State Governor, will not only hand over power to Mr Caleb Mutfwang of the opposition PDP, but he will also leave 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, known as the G5, Nyesom Wike, will hand over as Rivers State governor to his anointed successor, Siminialayi Fubara, with a domestic debt of N225,505,011,356.00, while the DMO puts the state’s external debt at $140,177,828.95.

Aminu Tambuwal, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, will hand over Sokoto State to Ahmed Aliyu of the APC with a total of N85,584,818,029.23 in domestic debt and $37,127,361.58 in foreign debt on May 28 after completing his eight-year two-term tenure under the PDP.

Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku will hand over domestic debt of N90,807,647,838.11 and external debt of $22,280,666.87 to his fellow PDP member, Kefas Agbu.

Domestic contractors and other creditors owe N2,103,343,925,388.89 to the 17 states where new chief executives will take over on May 29, 2023, and foreign creditors owe $1,755,968,311.36.
Similarly, some of the governors-elect will have to deal with disgruntled employees and pensioners as a result of their predecessors’ failure to pay on time.