Nigeria’s leading opposition party, The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) took the lead with a slight margin in the ‘inconclusive’ governorship election in Osun State, South West, Nigeria. The election which was held on Saturday, September 22, 2018, is the last in the series of elections to take place in the country ahead of country’s general election in March 2019.
Currently being governed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, Nigeria’s ruling party, Osun has been adjudged by analysts as a ‘swing’ state because it has equal chances of being won by the two major political parties in Nigeria. The election will also set the tone of voters choice ahead of presidential elections next year. The winner of the inconclusive election held at the weekend will now be decided in a rerun slated to hold on Thursday, September 27, 2018, in four local governments. The four local governments had 3,498 votes which were void, leading to the election being declared inconclusive.
The opposition party candidate Senator Ademola Adeleke who polled 254,698 votes is trailed closely by ruling party candidate, Gboyega Oyetola who polled 254,345 votes in the keenly contested election. With a population of over 4.5 million people, the debt-ridden Osun state currently owes some of its workers despite a federal government intervention of 16 billion Naira it got on the eve of the elections.
Although, with the results of weekend’s election, the opposition is poised to wrestle power from the ruling party who also remains optimistic ahead of the rerun. Political predictions have cast a nebulous cloud over who will emerge as governor of the state.
What hasn’t really been discussed is the impending doom in the state if a viable blueprint is not formulated. The state is close to fiscal shambles as it currently cannot sustain itself or trump its huge debt stock. Currently, Osun state is ranked 35 out of 36 states in the fiscal sustainability index that was released by BudgIT last week. The report indicates the ability of a government to sustain its current spending, tax and other policies in the long run without threatening government solvency or defaulting on some of its liabilities or promised expenditures.
No doubt, whoever wins the election is taking the reins of a state deep in debt. Osun is swamped in both domestic and external debt with its dwindling economy. According to figures recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the state’s domestic debt stock has risen to 135.8 billion Naira, while its external debt stock is $101.5 million.
Analysts and social commentators also fear the state might plunge into bankruptcy if it continues on its current path. The state budget (capital and recurrent expenditure) for 2018 is estimated around 172.9 billion. However, so far this year, the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and allocation from the federal government is less than 30 billion naira.
Allegedly, Osun State can only finance one-third of its recurrent expenditure. Hence, beyond the election is a state with a worrying debt profile that has affected many of its citizens; the present government currently operates a modulated salary system with throngs of abandoned projects. The state, and whoever wins the election, must now look beyond its meagre revenue and monthly intervention from the federal government to find a solution to its debt-ridden profile.