Col. Abubakar D. Umar (Rtd), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend his order to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank Of Nigeria to release the second tranche of the Paris-London Club refunds to the States.
“It is now revealed that some state governors contracted consultants with fees ranging from 10 to 30 per cent to secure [the] refund from the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said today in a terse press statement, describing the discovery as a “shocking revelation.”
In his words, “It is also evident now that most of the earlier released funds were deployed for other purposes than payment of salaries and pension arrears as directed by Mr President. This impunity has got to stop.”
At the National Economic Council last Thursday, President Muhammadu directed the Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to swiftly release the second tranche of the refunds to the states in the interest of settlement of unpaid salaries and pension liabilities of workers.
“I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people,” he was quoted as saying by presidential spokesman Garba Shehu. “One of these basic things is the issue of salaries. It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow.”
It first came to light in November 2016 that President Buhari had authorized the payment of the first tranche of N522.74 to all the States, for which it was curiously very secretive. The controversial Senator Dino Melaye accused the governors of trying to hide receipt of the funds from the public, an announcement controverted by Mrs. Adeosun.
In a statement, last night, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) denied that any funds have been diverted or shared by any of its members.
The group argued that in the 12 years in which its current leadership has been involved in the matter, leading to the final disbursement to States of the first tranche, nothing illegal has been committed.
In the statement, signed in Abuja by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, its Head of Media and Public Affairs, the NGF described the governors as “responsible, sensitive and compassionate enough to understand the plight of Nigerians,” and affirmed that they work only in the interest of their people.
“It is important to state that in approving the repayment, due process was diligently followed and each and every approving authority, including the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation as well as the National Assembly were duly informed from the beginning to the end of all the transactions.
“Nothing illegal was done and no money was paid into the personal account of any governor, legislator or top officials at any of the levels and arms of government in the country.”
The governors further stated that President Buhari would not have authorized the release of the second tranche were there any fraudulent practice by their members in the disbursement of the first tranche.
The statement did not say if any of the governors used consultants in the process, or if any of them earned as much as 10 to 30 per cent of the funds, as disclosed by Rtd. Col Umar, for their States.