“Come Clean On N111billion Paris Club Refunds” – NGO to Niger Delta Governors


A non-governmental organization, Policy Alert: The Grassroots People
Empowerment Foundation, has called on state governments in the Niger
Delta to publish how they spent the first tranche of London and Paris
Clubs loan refund. The call came on the heels of a presidential
approval last week for the release of the second tranche of the funds
following a demand on same by the Nigerian Governors Forum.

In a statement released in Uyo this morning, Policy Alert’s Head of
Programmes, Tijah Bolton-Akpan said: “It is worrisome that more than
three months after a total of 111 billion naira was injected into the
Niger Delta through the first tranche of Paris Club refunds, none of
the nine state governors in the region has found it fit to go public
on how much is being claimed, how much was received and what they were
doing to fulfill the conditions tied to the funds by the federal
government. Also shrouded in secrecy are details of their expenditure
plans for the funds, where the funds fit into their state annual
budgets and actual utilization of the funds on the ground.”

The statement expressed concern that most states were not using the
funds according to the agreed terms and in a transparent and
accountable manner. “In a couple of states the money has been included
in the 2017 budget; in the others there is no clear picture on where
the money is going” said Bolton-Akpan. “In some states, the local
government share of the funds has been released to local government
councils in line with the agreement reached with the federal
government, while in several others this has not been done or is being
done only on paper in the absence of elected councils. In many of the
states, there is nothing to show that at least 50 per cent of the
funds have been spent on salaries and pensions as directed.”

Bolton-Akpan further noted: “Going by past experiences with 13 percent
derivation in most states in the region, there are genuine grounds for
concern that the refunds could be treated by the governors as a
windfall. It would be such a shame if this money goes up in smoke. The
governors have already signed an undertaking with the federal
government that in the event of the amount already paid exceeding
verified claims, the surplus will be deducted directly from the
state’s monthly federal allocation. This means in effect that for some
states the refund may actually end up as a loan, which is why extra
prudence must be exercised in managing these special inflows.”

The statement added: “Over 35 percent  (or about $2.3 billion) of the
total claims of $6.9 billion by states from the London-Paris Club debt
refunds will be going to the nine states of the Niger Delta. Such
quantum of resources can either make a difference for millions of
citizens of the Niger Delta if managed judiciously, or further deepen
the poverty and inequality in the region if misused. The current
recession is pushing the people of the region into desperate survival
measures, with more and more pressure on the fragile ecosystem and
lean resources of the region for livelihoods.  Every effort should
therefore be put into managing whatever resources accrue to the region
during these lean times in a transparent and accountable manner. We
call on citizens and state legislatures in the region to ask questions
on how this money is spent.”

Media contacts:
Chimezie – 09090001685
[email protected]

Tijah – 08034984063
[email protected]