PHOTONEWS: Nigerian Governors Meet In Abuja

The 36 state governors under the aegis of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) on Tuesday gathered in Abuja to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun was accompanied by the state House of Assembly Speaker, Rt Hon. Najeem Salaam and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Dr Ajibola Basiru to the meeting.

Pictures taken by the official photographer of the Osun governor, Dolapo;

Gbajabiamila Backs Fayose Over NGF’s $1billion ECA Approval To Fight Boko Haram

Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the Leader of the House of Representatives, on Sunday said the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has the moral right to kick against the Nigerian Governors’ Forum decision to approve $1 billion from Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram.

Recalled that the state governors at a meeting of the National Executive Council announced they approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to be used to fight the insurgents.

In a swift reaction to the development, Mr Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State described the gesture as a surreptitious move by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019.

He disassociated himself from the gesture, saying he doesn’t agree with the decision.

Reacting to Mr. Fayose’s criticism, Mr. Gbajabiamila in a statement said, “On whether Gov Fayose or any other Gov has a right to kick I believe he does.”

“The ECA I have always maintained is an illegal account and I instituted a court action against it during then Jonathan administration. Unfortunately until a final decision has been made by the courts the account is still operative,” the statement read.

“Where the governors have decided to ‘donate’ some of their funds from the ECA to fight Boko Haram, their state assemblies can kick against it that such was not appropriated by them.

“I do agree that due process wasn’t followed by the governors as they should have sought approval of their states before the donation. It is however not for the national assembly to complain on behalf of the state assemblies.

“This is part of the principle of separation of powers in a constitutional democracy. The national assembly can only discuss the portion of the federal government money spent if any.

“On whether governor Fayose or any other governor has a right to kick I believe he does.

“No matter how inappropriate if he does not accede to the request or deduction from his state’s portion there is no amount of consensus that can bind him as postulated by the chairman of the governors forum because such portion belongs to his state and not to the governors forum. So he may be entitled to a refund.”

Nigerian Governors Meet On Constitutional Amendment

The governors of Nigeria’s 36 states under the aegis of Nigeria Governor Forum (NGF) on Wednesday met and discussed the ongoing process of amending the 1999 constitution.

Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, the Forum chairman while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, said the meeting discussed the presentation made to it by the chairman of the constitution amendment committee, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, during its last meeting.

“The Deputy Senate President was here with us to brief us on the harmonized position of the two houses for the task of the schedule of the amendment of the Nigeria constitution.

“Because of its importance, we decided to hold this extraordinary meeting so that we could deliberate,” he said.

Mr. Yari said the governors had wanted to invite the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies so as to “collectively look at what was submitted for the betterment of the nation.”

The conference of speakers had held a meeting in Yola, Adamawa State, two weeks ago, to also discuss the constitutional amendment.

A major highlight of the meeting of the speakers was their decision to grant full autonomy to local government areas.

It is believed that governors are against granting autonomy to local governments because of their perceived need to continue to control funds allocated to the council areas in their states.

Mr. Yari, however, said the governors had agreed that “the constitution is being amended for posterity and not for any other interest.”

He also said the NGF has information that the two chambers of the National Assembly are having difficulty harmonizing their positions on the amendments to the constitution.

“So probably by next week, that is on the 18th, the Speaker of the House of Representatives or his representative will come and make his own presentation to us so that we look at it too,” he said.

The Zamfara State governor said issues such as “national interest, devolution of powers, and political agitations were not taken into considerations in that amendment.”

He said as leaders, the governors consider it important for these issues to be captured for the good of the nation.

 

Governors Seek Fresh Bailout From Nigerian Government

The 36 States Governors of the federation have asked the Federal Government for a bailout, in the form of budget support.

Ebonyi state Governor, Dave Umahi, disclosed this to reporters on Thursday at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Umahi said the request is meant to assist Governors offset staff salary arrears.

The Governor also revealed that most of the Governors persuaded Finance Minister, Kemi Adoesun, to find ways of sustaining the provision of budget support to the states.

Umahi said such support is needed, “especially when the amount that accrues to the states from the federation account is less than N600 billion”.

“We came to the understanding that every month, if the total shareable revenue in the federation account is less than N600billion, the minister of finance will give each state budget support.

“We concluded that in the last 12 months and that continued for the second year. States have done very well; some states have been able to pay their accumulated salary debts and then also increased their commitment to infrastructure and generation of revenue.

“However, from July, that was not paid and in the month of August, I think about seven states were paid because according to the minister, other states did not comply with the set down rules, the most outstanding of that was the non-remittance of VAT from the states.

“So those seven states have been paid but more states have complied but we requested that those states that have complied should be paid.”

The request comes at a time the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused some Governors of mismanaging previous bailout funds.

Only on Thursday did officials of the anti-graft agencies arrest two top officials of the Ekiti state government over alleged misappropriation of bailout funds.

 

Proscription, Declaration of IPOB As Terrorist Organisation Unconstitutional – Saraki

Senate President, Bukola Saraki has described as “unconstitutional”, the recent proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by South East governors in the region.

Saraki similarly flayed the Nigerian Military over its declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation.

In a statement he personally signed on Monday, the Senate President said due process was ignored in proscribing IPOB, as well as in the declaration of the separatist group as terrorists.

Saraki said, “I wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by governors of the south-east states and the categorisation of the group as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian military is unconstitutional and did not follow due process.

“Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect.”

“Our brothers and sisters in the south-east, in particular, should continue to maintain peace and tranquillity and go about their lawful business. This crisis will not benefit anybody but would only expose innocent people to unwarranted danger,” it read.

“At this point, Nigerians outside the south-east who have worked to ensure that the crisis does not spread to other parts of the country deserve our commendation. I, therefore, call for continued efforts to sustain peace, unity and stability in all our communities so as to ensure that all residents, no matter their religion, tribe and creed remain protected and safe under the law.

“We must commend the military for their efforts in restoring peace to different parts of the country and sustaining the unity of the country.

“However, in the face of provocation, the military should allow themselves to be guided by their training which emphasises respect for human rights, even in war. Also, giving the nature of this particular situation, the military has every reason to be hesitant in the use of force.

“I want to also make it clear that the national assembly intends to embark on a fact-finding investigation aimed at determining what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the south-east. We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We intend to lay the facts bare.

“We want to remind Nigerians that the reason for embarking on constitution review by the national assembly was to enable us look into issues that are agitating the minds of Nigerians and creating tension among us. We have promised that the exercise would be continuous.

“We intend to keep that promise by further taking decisions that would strengthen and improve on our structures. The eighth national assembly, on resumption, will play its constitutional role by addressing all those issues that are agitating the minds of our people and over which they feel so strong,” the statement read.

Now That The Governors Are Back, By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, this has been a week of feverish action and frenetic activity between Nigeria and Great Britain. I assume that all Nigerians know that our dear beloved President is currently a resident of the beautiful city of London, not by choice but of necessity. Twice, in quick succession, Nigeria has been bogged down by the ill-health of its leaders and by some strange coincidence both are from Katsina State.

The first, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, of blessed memory, sought medical refuge in Saudi Arabia but succumbed after a prolonged battle with what seemed to be cancer. Obviously, in our wonderful country, we never enjoy the privilege of being told anything by our leaders. We often make a fetish of what is a straight-forward matter elsewhere. We are a largely superstitious race. A common ailment is always attributed to some esoteric attacks from witches and wizards or some such other malevolent forces.

There could be no other reason why we hide the poor health of our leaders from those who foot the medical bills than the fact that we take them for granted and believe there is no basis for providing them with information that is their right to have. Besides, Nigeria is blessed with the largest assemblage of Pastors, Imams and marabouts. How would they know where to direct their intercession if no one gives a hint of what is wrong? The Yar’Adua saga in 2010 was one of its kind in Nigeria. The country was kept in the dark while some of the Presidential acolytes governed through the backdoor. After some massive protests, especially in Abuja, Yar’Adua’s deputy and Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was allowed to act as President, albeit grudgingly.

If we thought such a thing would never repeat itself, we were dead wrong. Not only did it recur, it did so with an alacrity that is seemingly unprecedented in history. Our current President, Muhammadu Buhari, has spent more time attending to himself than he has spent attending to matters of State. Nigerians have shown more tolerance to him and demonstrated greater patience than they did for President Yar’Adua. No one has taken to the streets protesting against his incessant absences from his job, which could easily have been the case. But there are different categories of people in support or opposition to his continued stay as President and Commander-in-Chief. The Governor of Ekiti State has never hidden his pathological disdain for Buhari. He attacks him with devastating blows and pugilistic upper cuts at every opportunity. Several times, Fayose has declared Buhari dead or incapacitated only to get egged on his face as the President rises like the proverbial Lazarus. He never gets tired of quoting impeccable sources and swearing and threatening to release damaging proof of his false doomsday prophesies.

So far, so good, he’s been dead wrong at every turn! Even if not entirely hale and hearty, Buhari continues to stand ramrod on his feet, albeit looking feeble and weak. There is no doubt that the President is presently enjoying better health than has been the case in the recent past. We must appreciate the fact that there have been several world leaders, who have not been that strong, that have governed their countries from their sick bed.  President Buhari has demonstrated his ability to do so because of the able and competent Vice President that he has in Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The President has learnt to trust and rely on the Acting President and, in this regard, has been quite open and forthright in his support for the Acting President.  What this has done is to improve the way in which people perceive the Presidency, as a joint team which makes it immaterial that one or the other is ill at any point in time.

There are those who feel Buhari is too weak to continue to run a country as complex and complicated as Nigeria. Again, Fayose has been in the forefront of those wanting him to resign like yesterday. They often use an old quote of Buhari against him, the advice he offered ailing President Yar’Adua when he told him to resign in 2010. In 2017, a similar scenario is playing out with such uncanny similarity and repetition. Would Buhari bow out due to pressure? I doubt it. We all say things when they’ve not concerned or affected us personally and directly. Truth is we do not have a culture of resignation in Nigeria. The position of the President of Nigeria is certainly one of the most powerful in the world. It would take some spiritual intervention to walk away casually from such a monumental privilege. No one can say what he would do with a degree of assertion until he’s been tried and tempted. That is a fact. So let’s accept for now that our President has no intention of abdicating anytime soon. Indeed, it would be premature to ask him to do so in any event.  It is clear that he is showing quite remarkable improvement and almost magical recuperative powers of recovery. This means that one cannot say he should quit the stage when he clearly can continue to act once he has become fully rejuvenated after a long stint of rest and relaxation.

Next we have those we have come to know as “the cabal”. That word became popular in 2010 and has refused to evaporate or vaporise ever since. This is a group of inner caucus in any government that has grabbed power for itself in an opportunistic manner. It thrives on the disappearance or long term absence of its principal and they feed regularly on unbelievable blackmail and on dropping subliminal hints that would scare everyone around into submission and acquiescence. The Cabal is always intent on ensuring that they create the impression that their principal has cloaked them with so much of his powers as to make them the de facto leaders of the country.  In effect they constitute themselves into a parallel government. If care is not taken, they try to undermine the constitutional and legitimate authority and line of succession, thereby rendering a person like the Acting President ineffective.  The good thing is that this has not played out the way the cabal would have liked it to, because the President has been proactive in making sure that everybody knows that he has faith in his Vice.

Fortunately, there are hard core supporters who feel Africans are too humane to humiliate a leader like Buhari who has suffered so much for his country. They lend support to the Presidential Team by their unwavering support for the President despite his illness. They are those who are ready to swim or sink with the big boss no matter the situation. Their attitude is rested on the African culture of reciprocity and loyalty. Leading this group of unrepentant and unequivocal supporters of the President is the Acting President who feels the rest of the team should not be seen to be overtly or inordinately ambitious. Indeed, his own humility and ability to deflect attention from himself transmits itself to all those around him.  The understanding is that they are temporarily holding the fort for the President and that everything that is being done is to project the avowed aim of the Presidential team to improve the lot of Nigerians.

The Acting President’s strategy is to demonstrate to the Nigerian people and the rest of the world that the joint ticket is working and working well irrespective of the failing health of the number one citizen.  Therefore, as far as the Acting President is concerned, whether the President is fully fit or not, his situation should not be made worse by rejection and dejection. This is why the Abuja House, located in the high-brow Camden Hill in Kensington, London has been turned into a Mecca of sorts for several reasons. There are those who believe the President should never be hurried or humiliated out power. They believe he deserves our support and sympathy now, more than ever.

There are other reasons for the sudden photo opportunities in London which seemed to have been embargoed for some time. Perhaps this was done because the President did not look too good at the time and it was felt there was no need to panic Nigerians when Doctors must have told him that his improvement health-wise was increasing. Whatever may have been the reason why there was no visibility for the President until recently, the pressure on government was becoming suffocating and unbearable after two many failed promises about Buhari’s potential return within a short time. As a matter of fact, Buhari’s return had been hyped into a frenzy, the climax of which was Femi Adesina’s ill-fated essay on the punishment Buhari’s enemies deserve.

Femi’s parable was construed or misconstrued as a sign heralding Buhari’s imminent triumphant re-entry into Nigeria. In fact, many had predicted that Buhari was going to land last Monday in Abuja but that soon became Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Instead of our President’s return to Nigeria, Nigeria actually moved to London with The Ruling Party’s leader and some of its Governors embarking on a visit to the President which was shrouded in some secrecy until practically the last minute. Thereafter, another visit was arranged for opposition Governors as if to say that it was necessary for Nigerians to believe that the President was now much better only if both sides of the political divide said so. Of course their visit had been preceded by the visit of the Acting President who had brought the good tidings of a quickly recuperating President.  One would have thought that given the integrity and nobility that one has come to associate with the Acting President, the veracity of his testimony would have been accepted, particularly, as he is also a much respected man of God.

I’m not sure what those public relations stunts, which is what the governors’ visits amounted to, achieved, except establishing that President Buhari was alive and now able to receive visitors. It is doubtful from the pictures released that the President has recovered substantially and that he would return home pretty soon. He still looks fragile and on my part, I would say that his return should not be rushed. If he still needs to rest in order to recover some more then he should be allowed to do so. I say this because once he returns, it would be an insult to Nigerians to rush him out of the country again after a short period of time.  Medical facilities can be installed in the villa to help monitor his health and give him the necessary remedial treatment that he may require.

In my view, the energy and resources expended on those gubernatorial trips should have been channelled into getting our President to record a few minutes’ video address to Nigerians. Indeed, this should have been a fairly regular occurrence. It would be most comforting to the people of Nigeria simply to see and hear from their President even if for a few seconds. The President should have taken the opportunity to thank Nigerians for their patience and understanding and seek their continuing prayers while he continues to recuperate.

I monitored the conversations regarding the visit of the governors on social media and majority of the people said they would never trust whatever they are told by the visiting Governors. Even when the pictures came out to demonstrate clearly that Buhari is alive, many doubting Thomases still maintained that they didn’t believe the tales from London. My question then is, why do we keep wallowing in this shallow approach to serious issues? Why can’t we update Nigerians regularly about the medical condition and physical state of the President. It is not a crime to be sick. We should stop being unnecessarily protective. Buhari is public property. He is not the exclusive preserve of his family or the Presidency. We are making life more difficult for him by this excessive sensitivity.  It is time to be open and frank with the Nigerian people.

PDP, APC Govs Meet Buhari In London

Seven visiting governors were on Wednesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari in London.

The team was led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari.

Other governors on the delegation include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Umar Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

See photos of the visit…….

Stop Stealing of Public Funds, Borno Gov, Shettima Tell Governors

Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno, has advised governors in the country to stop pilfering from the public treasury with the aim of accumulating wealth.

Instead, he urged them to focus on enhancing the well-being of the masses.

The governor gave the advice on Tuesday in Abuja at the 2017 graduation of Internally Displaced Girls under the Organisation of Female Students Scholarship Scheme.

The 73 graduating girls were sponsored by the Girl Child Concern (GCC), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), in collaboration with the Borno Government, and were selected in from secondary schools in five Northern states.

“The most important yard stick has to do with the quality of governance; there is more to leadership than primitive capital accumulation.

“No matter how much you accumulate beyond a certain point, it’s just a number,” the governor said.

He said that unless something was done fast to address the plight of the common man, “what awaits the country will be worse than the Boko Haram insurgency”.

According to him, this is violence that cannot be separated from poverty, and a hopeless, jobless, ill-educated and ill-paid young man is the most dangerous.

Shettima stated that it was the responsibility of governors to enthrone good governance by “wearing their thinking caps” and working for the people.

He, therefore, stressed the need for governors to create more jobs, invest in education and create work space and work stations for the next generation of youths.

He said that there was nothing special about oil as it would soon go into extinction, noting that human resources was the most important and should be developed.

The governor, however, said that there was need for Nigerians to unite to fight the country´s common challenges.

He noted that women and children bore the brunt of insurgency, adding that the Boko Haram sect had so far created 54,911 widows and 52,311 orphans in the state.

This, he said, was according to World Bank, European Union and the Presidency’s official figures.

“These are official figures, probably the unofficial figure may be twice this number.

“The truth is that we either take care of these orphans or 10 years to fifteen years from now, they will be the monsters that will drive us out of this land,” he said.

According to the governor, some elite and political bigwigs are already afraid of visiting rural areas to meet with common men for fear of being molested.

He added that there was presently a palpable content against the elite glaring on the faces of most common men.

He decried the state of public schools in the country, particularly in the North, saying that security and feeding in most of the schools was nothing to write home about.

Shettima stressed that unless the country´s leadership began to think toward improving the lot of the common man and working for the people, the situation would deteriorate.

Earlier, Dr Mairo Mandara, Executive Director of the GCC, said the girls were another success story of the country´s fight against insurgency.

This, she said, was so because the girls dared where others failed and got what others were abducted for.

Mandara described the girls as “a cohort of brave, fearless, active and informed girl mentors” empowered with life skills who would encourage others to remain in school.

She added that the centre had concluded plans to establish a Girls´ Academy in Borno with learning activities taking off in September, 2017.

Mandara said that GCC was also setting up a skills acquisition centre for teaching construction skills in collaboration with King Muhammad VI of Morocco.

She said that Borno Government had already provided a land for the project, adding that discussions for the setting up of the centre had reached advanced stage.

Most of the girls who spoke to NAN expressed happiness on their freedom and graduation and prayed to God to bless the GCC and Borno Government.

NAN

EDITORIAL: States And The Paris Club Refund

With the release of second tranche of Paris Club Loan Refunds on Tuesday, the Federal Government took another big step to relieve the states of their lingering insolvency.  Announcing the release, Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Salisu Dambatta, confirmed that N243.79bn had been released to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory bringing the total so far disbursed to N760.17bn. Just like the first tranche, the five states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano, and Rivers took the lion share of 20 percent with N10bn each. The state of Osun got N6.31bn.

Not surprisingly, the rumour mill has literally swung into overdrive with mischief-makers bandying all manners of figures on the amount released, despite the publication of the figures in major newspapers.  The idea obviously is to force the hands of Governors to do the bidding of special interests often at to the detriment of the collective interests. Before now, the Governors were accused of either taking the money under the cover of darkness even when no kobo had been released, or stealing a huge chunk of it even when no concrete proof is on ground. Such is the nation these days – such that truth is not only sacrificed on the altar of emotions but also elasticated.

Given the exaggerated expectations from the citizens particularly the organised labour which has been at the forefront of the agitations, we find it necessary again to restate what the refund is all about –what it is meant to cater for from what is not.

Nigerians would recall the country’s exit from the Paris Club of Debtors in 2005. Shortly after the celebrated exit, it emerged that most states had overpaid their share of the loans,there was a clamour to have full refund of the excess paid.  Although the clamour predated the current administration, it reached its crescendo as a result of the crushing insolvency which the states found themselves courtesy of the current economic recession. With meaningful developmental activities in the states virtually grinding to a halt, President Muhammadu Buhari magnanimously ordered the refunds to be made to relieve the states of their financial burden particularly that of salaries and pensions.

Therefore, the refund, far from being a cure-all pill, was a sort of palliative to augment the shortfalls brought on by the shrinking accruals into the federation account. To that extent, the expectations that it would address long-term issues of fiscal insolvency are not only misplaced but baseless.

 Of course, we understand the obligations of the Governors to clear outstanding arrears of workers and pensioners both as a strategy to put life back into the economies of the states and also to relieve the pains of the distraught workers. The question really is whether the Paris Club refund or any windfall for that matter can provide the kind of relief being sought by the workers on a sustainable basis given that the problems are of a structural nature. If, as in this case, the answer is negative, the Governors are right to press for understanding by the workers in their efforts to chart a sustainable way out of the current economic crisis. After all, the refunds will come and go leaving the task of weaning the states off their dependence on federal allocations behind for the governors to contend with.

Much as the workers would rather have their arrears upfront, we counsel them to see reason with the Governors in their resolve to devote a sizeable chunk of the loan refunds on capital projects to guarantee their future as indeed those of the generations to come.

Paris Refund: See What Each State Gets

The Federal Government on Tuesday released details of payments to the 36 states as refund of “over-deductions on Paris Club, London Club Loans and Multilateral debts on the accounts of States and Local Governments between 1995 to 2002

The latest payment is the second tranche of the refunds to the states.

A total of N243.8 billion was released to the 36 states and Abuja in the second tranche.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said approval for the release of the fund was given by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on May 4.

The details, released by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday evening, showed that Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers received the largest sum of N10 billion each.

The states had earlier promised to use a large chunk of the money to settle debts owed workers and pensioners in their respective domains.

“The releases were conditional upon a minimum of 75 per cent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions for States that owe salaries and pension,” Salisu Dambatta, a finance ministry spokesperson said in the statement.

The finance ministry said it was reviewing the impact of these releases on the level of arrears owed by the various state governments.

See details below:

S/N STATE AMOUNT PAYABLE (NGN)
1 ABIA 5715765871.48
2 ADAMAWA 6114300352.68
3 AKWA-IBOM 10000000000
4 ANAMBRA 6121656702.34
5 BAUCHI 6877776561.25
6 BAYELSA 10000000000
7 BENUE 6854671749.25
8 BORNO 7340934865.32
9 CROSS RIVER 6075343946.93
10 DELTA 10000000000
11 EBONYI 4508083379.98
12 EDO 6091126592.49
13 EKITI 4772836647.08
14 ENUGU 5361789409.66
15 GOMBE 4472877698.19
16 IMO 7000805182.97
17 JIGAWA 7107666706.76
18 KADUNA 7721729227.55
19 KANO 10000000000
20 KATSINA 8202130909.85
21 KEBBI 5977499491.45
22 KOGI 6027727595.8
23 KWARA 5120644326.57
24 LAGOS 8371938133.11
25 NASARAWA 4551049171.12
26 NIGER 7210793154.95
27 OGUN 5739374694.46
28 ONDO 7003648314.28
29 OSUN 6314106340.62
30 OYO 7901609864.25
31 PLATEAU 5644079055.41
32 RIVERS 10000000000
33 SOKOTO 6441128546.76
34 TARABA 5612014491.52
35 YOBE 5413103116.59
36 ZAMFARA 5442385594.49
37 FCT 684867500.04
243795465195.2

No Paris Club Debt Money Stolen- NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Monday said no money was stolen or embezzled from the Paris Club debt refunds to states or from any other source.

The Head, Media and Public Affairs at NGF Secretariat, Mr Abulrazque Barkindo, said this in a statement in Abuja.

Barkindo denied allegation that Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara and Chairman of the Forum, was building a three-million dollar hotel from monies stolen from refunds to states.

Barkindo said that the false allegation gave cause for worry.

“The reports contain harmful, damaging and libelous insinuations which remain largely unsubstantiated, despite the fact that it attributes the leaks to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials in Lagos.

“Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has said emphatically that he does not even own a plot of land in Lagos not to talk of a hotel.’’

He said some EFCC officials in Lagos claimed that “they have found a hotel being constructed by Gov. Yari with three million dollars he stole from London-Paris Club loan refund to Nigerian states”.

He also quoted the report as saying that “apart from the $3million, Gov. Yari also diverted N500 million from the Paris Club refund to pay off a loan”,

Barkindo described all the claims as wrong, harmful, libelous and misleading disclosures.

“Gov. Yari is not building any hotel in Lagos nor were any monies stolen or embezzled from the Paris-London Club refunds to states or from any other source.’’

Bakindo said that an online medium quoted the EFCC extensively as its source.

He said that the NGF was alarmed that the EFCC continued to feed the media fibs at the expense of its hard-earned reputation as anti-graft agency that Nigerians used to respect.

“This is perhaps why the EFCC has lost most of the high-profile corruption cases at the law courts after it had unfairly stage-managed media trials and caused their victims personal pain and public umbrage.

“This report, typical of most of the exclusive leaks that are becoming characteristic of the sources that court some sections of the media, lacks detail and compelling evidence to be fit to print.

Barkindo said that the sources were courageous enough to mention a hotel in Lekki area of Lagos but gave neither a street name nor any specific information on the property to give credibility to the allegations.

“This does no service to any investigation nor does it help the development of our country Nigeria.

“The media, we all know, is entitled to perform its duties as watchdog of society, which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is not, however, entitled to make unfair attacks, based on unfounded, false and unsubstantiated allegations against responsible public office holders.’’

NAN