Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and his predecessor, Sen. Umaru Al-Makura, have denied rumours of a rift between them over alleged inherited debt.
The duo made the clarification at a joint press briefing in Abuja on Friday following a visit by Gov. Sule to Al-Makura.
Sule urged Al-Makura not to pay attention to media reports to the effect that an alleged over N18 billion debt by the immediate past administration was impeding governance in the state.
“At no time have I stated that there was a debt of over N18 billion taken by Gov. Umaru Al-Makura and that it had stopped the running of government.
“For the purpose of clarification, I mentioned to stakeholders during the recent retreat for public office holders that we should all tighten our belts in view of the expenses ahead and the reduction in revenue accruing to the state from the Federation Account.
“I mentioned the need for us to all wake-up and improve on our revenue base in order to continue to prosper as a state.
“I mentioned that currently, we are having some deductions from our allocation due to the federal government intervention such as the bailout, which is not peculiar to Nasarawa State,” the governor said.
He said the State Government had been paying salaries consistently and even negotiating with labour over the new minimum wage, adding that infrastructure projects were being executed and government was running in spite of the refunds.
According to him, debt in the sense being portrayed implied taking serviceable facilities from banks, both local and foreign to embark on projects.
“As far as such debts are concerned, there is none taken by Governor Al-Makura and handed over to this administration.
“You cannot call bailout debt, you cannot call budget support debt because these are interventions given to states by the federal government as palliative to be deducted,” Sule added.
Sule maintained that he had great respect for Al-Makura, which had not and would not change given his efforts in developing the state.
On his part, Al-Makura described the report making the rounds as “unfair” to him, Governor Sule and the people of the state.
He said that journalists should uphold professional ethics of seeking clarification rather than resorting to speculations with the intent of causing disaffection between him and his successor.
According to Al-Makura, he considers Governor Sule’s administration as a continuation of his government because they share the same value, vision and hope for the state.
“I am saying with every sense of sincerity that I did not go to any bank to take any loan on behalf of the state government while in office,” Al-Makura said.
He said those seeking to see himself and Gov. Sule fall apart should have a rethink.
“We are here to reassure the people of Nasarawa State that whoever is wishing to see that we have friction with the current administration in the state is chasing shadow,” Al-Makura said.