Why Katsina’s Rising Debt Worries Me – By Malam Naini Musa
According to a Katsina post report, the government of Katsina state has borrowed another N50B Naira from the Federal Government to add to the list of numerous others this administration has incurred since it came into power.
According to Katsina Post, the state’s commissioner of finance, Honourable Jobe stated that the loan will be used for the completion of dam project in Ajiwa, the project in Zobe dam, Dutsimma and the ongoing hospital rehabilitations. The loan will also provide funds for the road project proposed at K/kwaya and K/kaura roundabouts.
Some will argue that most projects demand money, huge money and that katsina state cannot afford to undertake these projects without these loans. These loans are in fact a blessing, the solution to Katsina’s water problems, failing hospital infrastructure and deteriorating roads. I understand the intentions and I understand the impact these projects will have on our lives. However, whatever excitement these projects arise in me are dwarfed by the fear of the consequences that could be birthed from the continuous assembling of these jumbo loans.
My one and only fear is how to pay off these loans. We are a young and small state tucked at the extreme corner of this country. Our biggest source of income is the federal allocation allotted to us as a monthly stipend by the generous federal government. We have remained like this from inception to date. We are yet to find ways to create other means to bring funds into our coffers. These stipends mostly go into paying monthly salaries to our blotted civil service. So please forgive me for panicking about these dreams that could turn into nightmares.
Any responsible human being knows what debt is and what its repercussions are. No responsible person takes a loan until they are sure of the means to pay it off. How then does state like Katsina callously raise its debt profile when there is not a clear-cut plan on how to pay it off? Just a couple of years ago, the state of Osun, under Rauf Aregbesola came to a complete stand-still because they have incurred so much debt, they could not pay salaries. Intelligent questions like these must be answered, it would only put us at the risk of danger to put them off.
Ideally, water is good, road is great and hospitals must be equipped and brought to shape. However, we must avoid the urge to nudge towards “Band-Aid solutions”. We must come up with everlasting solutions that will save us today and tomorrow. Most of these loans have interests on them, without clear cut plan to pay it off, if we are not careful, we will be thoroughly milked before succumbing to inevitable bankruptcy.
As it stands now, the largest market in katsina state, katsina central market is still licking its wounds caused by a devastating fire months ago. Also, the government has signed an order banning the sale of cattle in major markets across the states. We are currently fighting banditry which is speedily bankrupting people in rural areas. Economic activities are being curtailed by these unholy acts. Our economy is suffering, our internal generated revenues must be dwindling. Why does it make sense for us to be borrowing when we are on a bad financial run? It makes no sense at all.
Finally, these are opinions voiced by someone outside the corridors of power. Perhaps a man unsaddle and unburdened by the responsibilities of leading the state. Maybe there is a masterplan to pay incurred debt but has not been communicated, or maybe the administrators feel like these projects justify whatever consequences that could arise. Whatever it is, we who hold these fears owe it to ourselves to express them. It is then the responsibilities of the people taking those actions to argue their case and educate and remedy our ignorance. And if our fears are justified, then the authorities must humble themselves by bowing out of the situation for the good of all.
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and social critic.
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