We Don’t Want Your Loan Okowa

By Basil Okoh

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa sent a letter to the Delta state House of Assembly seeking approval to borrow N20 billion from Fidelity Bank and N100 billion from Premier Trust Bank. Consent was granted within 28 minutes of the proceedings.

There was no debate on what the loan is to be used for, projects to be implemented, or programs listed for financing. There was also no public engagement or information on a loan procured in the name of the Delta public. To get the expedited and express approval of the House of Assembly, the members, it is alleged, will get N300 million each.

Public acceptance of state debt is not a thing to be worried about in Delta’s strange two-man decision-making democracy. Sinking the state in debt in Delta state requires no more than a conspiracy and a secret pact between two men, the governor and Speaker of the legislature, both in desperate need of state cash and both pursuing hopeless electoral ambitions. This loan request is a classical “collabo” between two vested interests. Okowa is lending Delta state N100 billion from his bank to be spent on his campaign. Thieves are now in charge of the estate.

You would ask: What would an outgoing government be needing N120 billion for, less than four months to the end of an eight-year tenure? The answer will be difficult to bear but the truth is that the governor and his Man Friday need truckloads of money to buy two elections: the Vice Presidency and the governorship. These elections, both unredeemed from the start, have been guzzling cash and defying the rosy predictions of self-perpetuating prophets, shamans, and the feared deity of a reprobate clan.

We must remember that this same loan was sought mid-last year from a consortium of banks with Zenith Bank leading. Fidelity Bank was part of that consortium.

Talks between the Delta state government and the lending consortium broke down when the banks got intelligence on facts hidden by the government but material to the closure of the deal. The banks felt betrayed and mutual trust and confidence went with the wind.

Not disclosed to the banks were the facts of the absence of good faith by Ifeanyi Okowa as he worked behind the negotiations to outsmart the bankers. Bankers never forgive treachery with their money. The job of a banker is to make money even out of the devil. The bankers got wind that Okowa had incorporated a new bank with family and friends and ordered the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDA) to move all revenue accounts and other major accounts of government to his new bank. Okowa should have known that bankers have no forgiveness on matters of money. This was treachery and betrayal of the good faith required for such a big number of transactions. The banks called their men and walked.

The banks resolved thereafter not to take any more risks of advancing credit to the Delta state government until the end of the tenure of Okowa’s government and a new government put in place.

Desperate now to feed the money-guzzling election machines, both state and federal, Okowa’s government announced a new N40 billion “bridging loan” granted to the Government by Fidelity Bank. Fidelity Bank appears broke ranks with the consortium. But again, talks broke down when the Delta state government could not provide a convincing repayment schedule with adequate security guarantees for the sum applied for. Eventually, Fidelity Bank was minded to hedge their bet, reducing the offer and their exposure from N40 billion to N20 billion.

Let us all remember that the mastermind of these loan applications is the Commissioner for Finance Fidelis Chuks Tilije. Tilje was the Chief Executive of the failed Fortune Bank which was run aground by insider trading, corruption, and poor management.

Tilije no doubt is a darkly experienced man whose keen interest in the brokerages associated with such transactions is quite remarkable. He is riding on Okowa and Sherriff’s desperation for power and he is busy feeding them more pork. Desperation breeds frenzy and carelessness and a banker should know how to make hay from all that. He knows they are ready to throw money at every threat that stands in their way of perceived election victory. Again, Desperation leads to financial gambles and recklessness. And reckless men seeking power fall easily to well-laid traps.

Okowa and Sherriff do not feel any guilt or qualms about wasting other people’s money, particularly Delta state money and the two will rather put Delta state on auction than lose this election.

These two men are on a knife-edge desperation. They’re in a frenzy, on a high as if on a hallucinogen. This is as high as it can ever get for them. This is what The Beatles mean by Lucy in the sky of diamonds (LSD). Okowa knows that losing this election will spell the end of his upward rise in politics and perhaps end his political career.

A new epoch is dawning in Nigeria and Okowa’s archetypal transactional politics is being assailed and overwhelmed so ferociously by the youth of Nigeria. So Okowa is ready and willing to throw money, any amount and from whatever source, at any problem associated with this election. He is now like a man drunk on both ambition and lust and is ready to do anything and everything to win this one.

But the point however is that the people of Delta do not owe them election victory. We are not obliged to serve their greed for power or office. Their desperation or ambitions cannot serve our needs or interests in the state. Their desperation for money and power does not entitle them to corral us into debt. We refuse to be put in debt so Okowa can be vice president and Sherriff’s governor. So we want our money for honest development in our state.

Their ambitions will not bring any good to us but will be destructive to the well-being of the people of Delta state. So we put our interests before their wanton ambitions and demand rectitude from the government. We must stop Okowa and Sherriff from using our well-being and future security to serve their greed. We reject their criminal “collabo” on us, our resources, and our future well-being. The state must act as one to stop the criminal procurement of N120 billion loans from Fidelity Bank and Okowa’s own Premium Trust Bank.



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