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BREAKING: Senate To Probe Bailout Funds |The Republican News

From: FRED ITUA, Abuja

Strong indications have emerged that the Senate may sanction an investigation into how the Paris Club refunds and other bailout funds doled out to state governors by President Muhammadu Buhari were approved.

Sen. Samuel Anyanwu from Imo State, in a motion, on Thursday, queried the legality of the funds given to governors by President Buhari. He also sought to know who gave the approval.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, while speaking briefly on the motion, sought the leave of his colleagues to approve that the motion be brought to the floor at another legislative day.

Lawmakers, thereafter, agreed that Anyanwu presents a proper motion at another legislative day.     (The Sun)

Details later…

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Paris Club Refund:We Are Ready For Probe, Governors Tell EFCC

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Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

State governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum, in the early hours of Thursday, rose from their meeting, saying they were ready for the probe being conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on how they spent the N522bn Paris Club loan refund.

The meeting, presided over by the forum’s chairman, who is also the Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, was held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting, which started on Wednesday evening, did not end until the early hours of Thursday.

In an interview with State House correspondents, Yari said the state governors were ready for the probe.

He challenged the anti-graft commission to conduct the probe and come up with its report.

He, however, said the state governors were in total support of the present administration’s fight against corruption.

Yari stated, “We discussed the issue of Paris Club and London Club. We observed that the EFCC said it is doing investigations.

“Yes, we support the Federal Government for fighting corruption.

“We are waiting for the EFCC to come up with what they say is the investigation and come up with the result.”

The Director-General of the NGF, Bayo Okauru, had told The PUNCH on Monday that the governors decided to meet in order to clarify some of the issues being raised by the EFCC in its investigations.

According to him, the NGF had nothing to hide in its account.

In December 2016, the Federal Government approved N522.74bn to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement for the over-deductions on the Paris Club loan.

Many of the states reportedly shared their portions with their local governments mostly to settle the backlog of salaries and some of the state-owned debts.

The EFCC investigators were said to have invited the three signatories to the account of the NGF to its office.

They were questioned on the running of the forum’s account.

The EFCC had issued a statement on the probe, saying nobody had so far been indicted.

Governors fete Oshiomhole, Mimiko

Meanwhile, the NGF had earlier, on Wednesday, hosted a former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and the outgoing governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, to a farewell dinner at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, graced the event that saw state governors eulogising the virtues of Oshimhole and Mimiko.

The former Edo State Governor lauded his former colleagues for the gesture.

He also commended Osinbajo for the leadership he had been providing for the National Economic Council, which has all the state governors as members.

Mimiko said it was a thing of pride for the NGF for the first time to celebrate their former colleagues.

He made a case for more powers for state governors.

He said, “The situation, where state governors have no control of forces, is not a good thing. We have to recreate the image of the governors in Nigeria.

“There is a level of perception between the governors from the people and what they are delivering in the states.

“I think we need to rethink the image of the governors. Africa cannot come of age if Nigeria does not come of age.”    (Punchng.com)

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Paris Club Loan Refund: Governors Call Emergency Meeting Over EFCC Probe

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Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

Nigerian governors have summoned an emergency meeting over the ongoing probe of how they spent the N522bn Paris Club loan refund which was shared to the states in December 2016, by the Federal Government.

The Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Bayo Okauru, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday.

Okauru said the governors decided to meet in order to clarify some of the issues being raised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in its investigations.

“Yes, the governors are meeting soon, probably this week to take a position and address some of the issues being raised by the EFCC,” Okauru said.

He, however, said the NGF had nothing to hide in its account.

The PUNCH learnt that EFCC investigators had earlier invited the three signatories to the account of the NGF to its office, where they were questioned on the running of the forum’s account.

The EFCC had earlier told one of our correspondents on Monday that it was at the preliminary stage of the investigation of the 36 state governors in connection with the N522bn Paris Club loan refund, which was shared to the states by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had, in December, 2016, approved N522.74bn to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement for the over-deductions on the Paris Club loan.

The state governments had submitted their claims of over-deductions for external debt servicing arising between 1995 and 2002 to the Federal Government due to the first line charge deductions from the federal allocations.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday, that no governor had been indicted so far.

The statement read in part, “The commission wishes to state unequivocally, that no state governor or the Senate President has been indicted so far by the investigation which is still at a preliminary stage.

“Also, insinuations about a cover-up by some officials of the commission are untrue as there is no incentive to do so.

“The commission implores the media to be circumspect in the reportage of this delicate issue in order not to jeopardise ongoing investigation, and be assured that they would be fully briefed of developments as soon as a breakthrough is achieved.”

Many of the states reportedly shared their portions with their local governments mostly to settle the backlog of salaries and some of the state-owned debts.

The money was, however, not shared evenly among the states. As of January, N388bn of the money had been released to the states.

Rivers, Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Baylesa states were said to have received N14.5bn each while Imo, Niger, Jigawa and Borno states received about N13bn each.

Yobe, Plateau, Ogun, Abia and Zamfara states were said to have received N10bn each while Sokoto, Osun, Kogi, Kebbi, Edo, Cross River and Anambra states got about N11bn each.

Benue and Bauchi states reportedly got about N12bn each.

Other states are Ebonyi, N3.3bn; Adamawa, N4.8bn; Gombe, N8.3bn; Ekiti, N8.8bn; Enugu, N9.9bn; Kwara, N5.4bn; Ondo, N6.5bn; Nasarawa, N8.4bn; Ondo, N6.5bn; Taraba, N4.2bn; and Oyo, N7.2bn.   (Punchng.com)

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Fayose In New Alleged Of Diversion Of N8.877bn Paris Club Refund |The Republican News

Yusuf ALLI, Managing Editor, Northern Operation and Odunayo OGUNMOLA, Ado- Ekiti

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Fayose

Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, may have run into fresh trouble with the Federal Government after it was found that he collected the sum of N8.877 billion from the N388.304 billion released to 35 states as refunds from over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans but only paid one out of the eight-month salary arrears he owed workers in the state.

Fayose was also said to have paid a curious 13th month salary as bonus while the arrears of seven-month salaries owed the workers were left unpaid.

A reliable source in the Presidency, who spoke in confidence with one of our correspondents yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari has lived up to his pledge to ease salary crises in all the states by releasing N388.304 billion to 35 states but many of the states failed to abide by the agreement they had with the President that they would give preference to settling arrears of workers’ salaries.

The Presidency source said: “The agreement between the Federal Government and the state governors was very clear.

“While 50 per cent of the amount released was to be used to offset outstanding salary and pension arrears, the remaining 50 per cent would be used for the payment of other obligations.

“Some governors have however reneged on this agreement.

“Security reports available to the Presidency showed that Governor Ayodele Fayose paid only one month out of eight-month salary arrears.

“The same governor went ahead to pay a curious 13-month salary to Ekiti workers. Yet, he got N8.877 billion refund.

“Instead of accounting for what he used the loan refund for, he has the temerity to attack the Federal Government on hardship in the country.

“The relevant agencies are monitoring development in Ekiti and some states.”

Reacting to the allegation on the telephone yesterday, Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Toyin Ojo, admitted that the state got N8.8 billion from the Paris Club refunds.

But he said that the state’s share of the money was only N5.3 billion, which he said could barely pay one month out of the arrears of salaries owed the civil servants in the state.

According to him, the wage bill for a month stands at N5.2 billion.

He also said that workers in the local government sector could only get one month from the arrears of salaries owed them.

The Federal Government had released the sum of N388.304 billion out of N522.74 billion

to 35 states as refunds of over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans.

Topping the list of states with the hugest reimbursements are states controlled by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contrary to their claims that they were being financially oppressed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The biggest earners include Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Jigawa, Borno, Niger, Bauchi and Benue states.

But the reimbursement profile has shown that some governors fed their states with wrong figures of the sums given to them.

Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that 35 of the 36 states benefitted from the refunds of N388.304 billion.

Although most of the governors have begged the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, not to make the list of reimbursements public, The Nation was able to source the breakdown of the reimbursements exclusively.

The document indicated that all the 35 states were credited with their shares of the N388.304 billion as at December 27, 2016.

Our correspondent obtained the names of the bank, the account and the account numbers where each state’s share was remitted.

Only Kano State and the FCT have so far not benefitted from the reimbursements.

According to the list, Kwara State got two types of refund totaling more than N9.188 billion.

Kwara’s shares include N5,415,167,236.97 refund to the state government and N3,773,082,953.54 for its 16 local government areas.

Findings also confirmed that Ondo was only paid 50 per cent of its refunds (N6,513,392,932.28) because of leadership change in the state, which will soon lead to the inauguration of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu as the new governor.

A breakdown of the list of top beneficiaries of the refunds is as follows: Akwa Ibom, N14,500,000,000.00;  Bayelsa, N14,500,000,000.00;  Delta, N14,500,000,000.00; Kastina, N14,500,000,000.00; Lagos, N14,500,000,000.00;  Rivers, N14,500,000,000.00; Kaduna, N14,362,416,363.24; Borno, N13,654,138,849.49; Bauchi, N12,792,664,403.93; Benue, N12,749,689,453.61; Sokoto, N11,980,499,096.97; Osun, N11,744,237,793.56; Anambra, N11,386,281,466.35; Edo, N11,329,495,462.04; Cross River, N11,300,139,741.28; Kogi, N11,211,573,328.19 and Kebbi, N11,118,149,054.10.

The document said: “Ondo payment represents 50 per cent of the refund due to transition of leadership in the state. Further instructions are being awaited on balance payment.

“Adamawa, Kwara 22b on the list, Oyo and Taraba payments represent the portions due to the respective local governments.”

But the Presidency was uncomfortable with the attitude of some state governors to the management of the refunds.

Responding to a question, another source in government said: “It is unfortunate that some state governors under-declared the refunds made to them.

“Some of them were also discovered to be giving spurious analysis in order to cover up the actual figures.

“In fact, some states changed the agreement overnight.

“A state said the President asked states to use at least 25 per cent of their London and Paris Club refund to offset salary arrears.”

Investigation showed that about N134.44 billion out of the approved N522.74 billion will soon be paid as refunds to some states.

The top government source added: “Yes, as at December 27, 2016, all the 35 states had received the N388.3 billion refunds. The balance of N134.44 billion will soon be accessed.”

Following protests by states against over-deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammed Buhari had on December 2, 2016 approved the release of N522.74 billion to states as refunds pending reconciliation of records.

Each state is entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25 per cent of the amounts claimed.

But the government has raised a team to scrutinise claims by states and reconcile with available records.

These developments were contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi.

The statement said: “The Federal Government has reached a conditional agreement to pay 25% of the amounts claimed subject to a cap of N14.5 billion to any given state. Balances due thereafter will be revisited when fiscal conditions improve.

“Mr. President’s overriding concern is for the welfare of the Nigerian people, considering the fact that many states are owing salaries and pension, causing considerable hardship.

“Therefore, to ensure compliance with the directive that a minimum of 50% of any amount disbursed is dedicated to this, funds will be credited to an auditable account from which payments to individual creditors would be made. Where possible, such payments would be made to BVN linked accounts and verified.”

But any state paid refunds in excess of its outstanding claims might suffer deduction from its monthly allocations from the Federation Account.

It said: “Due to the fact that reconciliation is still ongoing and the final outcome might show an under or overstatement of claims, an undertaken has been signed by state governors, declaring that in the event the amount already paid exceeds the verified claim, the surplus would be deducted directly from the state’s monthly FAAC allocations.

“The total amount approved by the President is N522.74 billion and is to be paid in batches. The first batch of N153.01 billion is currently being processed for release to 14 state governments.

“The release of these funds is intended to support the fiscal stimulus programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to provide direct stimulus through government spending. It is particularly aimed at boosting demand at consumer level and reversing the slowdown in economic activity.” (The Nation)

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