Government of Cross River State owed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank several millions of Dollars collected as loan to construct Tinapa Premier Business and Leisure Resort.
Governor Donald Duke led administration had initially budgeted USD350 million for the project but as at its commissioning on April 2, 2007, the sum had increased to about USD450 million with some reports pegging the actual cost at USD470 million, our source said.
This is nearly NGN150 billion today but was about NGN56 billion as at 2007 a source further disclosed.
The huge debts left behind and the inability of Tinapa to kick off 3 years after completion saw the loans under Governor Liyel Imoke’s administration accruing neck-breaking interest with the Asset Management Company of Nigerian (AMCON) attempting to buy over NGN30 billion of the debt the state owed Union Bank. But a chunk of that money was gotten from the ECOWAS bank.
It was gathered that a bus load of the bank staff from its Abidjan, Ivory Coast headquarters arrived the state recently and threatened the Ayade administration to either pay back the loan or the bank will take over the facility. However, a source hinted that Governor Ben Ayade was worried as he was not aware of the debt until when the ECOWAS bank team arrived the State.
When contacted on phone, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade could not confirm or deny that the State Government owed the Bank. He referred our correspondent to the commissioner for Information, Mrs Rosemary Archibong who had refused to pick her calls.
Sadly, the Cross River State Government has been in high external debts accumulated since 2005. The state along 2 others were said to have crossed their borrowing thresholds and were barred from obtaining any commercial loan facility due to poor credit rating.
Our source said this, and the deductions at source from the DMO, of the state’s statutory allocation which has seen it receive a paltry NGN8.9 billion between January to June 2017 (NGN9.3 billion was deducted), has seen the state nearly grind to a halt.
But Governor Ayade in different fora has said that despite these challenges, he is bent on industrializing the state as it is the only way out of the financial conundrum the state is currently in.
“I know no sleep trying to ensure that salaries are paid because if we don’t pay that, there will be social tension which is why it is a priority in my administration,” Ayade told the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission chairman earlier this year.