How States Utilised Paris Club Refund – Survey

Many state governments across the federation have utilised the second tranche of the Paris Club refund they received to clear the arrears of their serving and retired workers’ entitlements.

However, in most states where the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities have been paid, some civil servants and retirees, especially those in the council areas, are still being owed.

A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, indicated that some of the workers and pensioners were owed salaries and pensions for periods ranging between two and 11 months.

The Federal Government in July released about N243.79 billion to the states as the second tranche of the refund, having earlier released N388.30 billion to them in December 2016.

The funds were released following protests by the states against over-deductions from their allocations for external debt services between 1995 and 2002.

The federal government had advised the state governments to use between 50 and 75 per cent of their shares of the refund to clear the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities they owed.

NAN reports that 15 of the 22 (68.1 per cent) states surveyed so far, have utilised the money in settling the arrears of the entitlements while seven have not.

Those that paid are: Jigawa, Yobe and Adamawa in the North-east; Kwara in the North- central; all states in the South-south except Cross River; Abia in the South-east; and all states in the South-west.

Bauchi, Gombe and Borno in the North-east; Cross River in the South-south; as well as Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi in the South-east are yet to pay the arrears.

In Jigawa, for instance, Suleiman Kiyawa, Executive Secretary, Jigawa State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme, said the state government had cleared the arrears.

Mr. Kiyawa said the state government paid about N461.4 million as terminal benefits to 339 retirees in the state.

Muhammad Ali, a staff of the state Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, said no retired or serving worker in the state was being owed any entitlement.

Abubakar Musa, a retired civil servant in the state, said that each time a civil servant retired, he/she collected the entitlements without delay.

In Yobe, Baba Malam-Wali, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, said the state had been paying salaries of workers as and at when due and would continue to do so.

The SSG spoke through his Press Secretary, Shuaibu Abdullahi, in Damaturu.

However, payment of the entitlements of the council workers in the state had been delayed due to an internal conflict among members of the state Local Government Retiree Screening Committee.

Kachallah Goni, the state Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, commended the state government for the prompt payment and urged it to intervene in the matter to pave way for hitch-free settlement of the arrears.

On its part, the Borno Government said it approved N6 billion for the clearing of the outstanding retired workers’ gratuities and pensions in the state.

NAN reports, however, that the concerned workers and retirees are yet to receive the payments.

Yakubu Bukar, Head of Service and Usman Zanna, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs respectively, said in a statement in Maiduguri that a committee had been constituted to handle it.

In Gombe, Haruna Kamara, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, said the state government had not settled the arrears of gratuities of some retired civil servants.

He said that government did not inform the NLC in the state about the release of the second tranche, but that the organised labour only read it on the internet.

“The truth of the matter is that nobody from the government of Gombe State consulted us about the fund and how they are going to use it,” he said.

Abubakar Umar, a pensioner in the state, appealed to the state government to pay the outstanding gratuities.

All efforts to get the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, James Phisagi, speak on the matter proved abortive.

In Yola, Governor Muhamadu Bindow of Adamawa, acknowledged receipt of N6.11 billion as the state’s share of the refund.

“So far, we have settled six months inherited outstanding workers’ salaries.

“It remains only one-month salary arrears which I have directed the Commissioner of Finance to pay,” he said.

However, some primary school teachers, primary healthcare workers and pensioners complained of non-payment of their outstanding salaries and pensions.

Speaking to NAN on the condition of anonymity, some primary healthcare workers said they were owed three months salaries.

“As I am talking with you, we have not received even the July salary let alone the three months arrears. We are suffering,” said one of them.

Checks by NAN at the state Pension Board indicated outstanding arrears of N11 billion owed to the state government pensioners and N8 billion owed to the local government pensioners.

The Bauchi State Chairman of NUP, Abu Gar, said the state government owed the retirees N26 billion as arrears of gratuities.

Mr. Gar who lamented what he called “poor handling of issues relating to pensioners” in the state, said 43 members of the union had died because of hardship.

The Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Ministry of Finance, Abdullahi Dori, confirmed the state government’s receipt of its share of the second tranche of the refund.

In Ilorin, North-central, Muideen Akorede, Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, said N2 billion of the N5.1billion received, was released to the 16 local government councils.

He also said that the state government released N312 million to the state-owned tertiary institutions for the payment of salary arrears.

A pensioner, Ibrahim Salmanu, however, said most local government retirees in the state were owed up to 11 months arrears of pension.

According to him, payment of gratuities to state pensioners had been stopped since March 2014.

All the states in the South-west said they utilised the fund in settling the salary and pension arrears they owed their serving and retired workers.

In Ibadan, Bimbo Adekanmbi, the Oyo Commissioner for Finance and Budget, said the state spent over 60 percent of the first and second tranches of the refund on clearing the arrears.

Ms Adekanmbi said the N7.9 billion it received as the second tranche was used to pay the arrears of April and May salaries as well as pensions.

Waheed Olojede, state NLC Chairman, confirmed the payment, but Bayo Titola-Sodo, President, Nigeria Union of Local Government, NULGE, Oyo State chapter, said council workers were still owed salary arrears.

In Abeokuta, the Ogun Commissioner for Finance, Wale Osinowo, said the government had committed N4.5 billion to the payment of arrears of cooperative deductions owed workers in the state.

He said the payment represented 79 per cent of the N5.7 billion received.

The NLC Chairman in Ogun, Akeem Ambali, however, said that the 12 months arrears of cooperative and check-off due deductions made this year had not been paid.

In Osogbo, the Osun Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Adelani Baderinwa, said the state government spent N5.10 billion of the N6.31 billion it received to clear the arrears.

Mr. Baderinwa said the payment schedule was recommended by the State Revenue Allocation Committee chaired by Hassan Sunmonu.

“The only outstanding payment owed pensioners here is the gratuity and this is because some who retired in 2011 and 2012 chose not to participate in the contributory pension scheme,’’ he said.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Jacob Adekomi, however, claimed that some workers and pensioners were still being owed.

The labour leader said that civil servants in the state ‘had been receiving modulated salaries’ since July 2015.

“A modulated salary scheme means workers on grade one to seven receiving 100 per cent of their salaries, and workers on grade level 8 to 12 being paid 75 percent of theirs, for instance,” he said.

In Akure, the Ondo State Government said that it received N6.38 billion as the second tranche of the Paris club refund.

Olusegun Ajiboye, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said 32.68 percent of the amount was allocated to the local government councils while the state government got 67.32 per cent.

He said that the federal government had advised state governments to use between 50 and 75 per cent of their shares for payment of salary and pension arrears.

“That is why Ondo state government used 75 per cent of its share to settle the salary and pension arrears,” Mr. Ajiboye said.

He said that the 75 per cent of the fund could pay only 80 per cent of the workers’ salary and pension arrears across board.

But Bosede Daramola, the NLC Chairman in the state, described fractional payment template adopted in the state as a breach of contract, saying it was unacceptable to the workers.

The Ekiti Government, on its part, said it received N4.7 billion as the second tranche of the refund.

The Commissioner for Finance, Toyin Ojo, told NAN in Ado Ekiti that local government councils in the state got N1.8 billion of the N4.7 billion.

He disclosed that the state government sought for additional funding in order to pay one-month salary and leave bonus to all workers.

The NLC Chairman, Ade Adesanmi, and his TUC counterpart, Odunayo Adesoye, said they were involved in the disbursement of the refund.

His NUT and NULGE counterparts, Segun Olugbesan and Bunmi Ajimoko respectively, also confirmed their involvement.

Meanwhile some retirees in the South-south region have decried the non-payment of the pension and gratuity arrears owed them.

For instance, Amadin Okoro, the spokesperson, NUP, Edo chapter, lamented that the state government had yet to offset the arrears of pensions and gratuities owed in the state.

Mr. Okoro said pensioners in the state were owed arrears of their entitlements, ranging between six and 42 months.

However, the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said the State Government had released N212.87 billion of the state’s share to the local government councils in the state “for the month of August.”

He tasked local governments to be creative in harnessing the huge human and natural resources that abound in the state for the good of the people.

The Akwa Ibom Government received N10 billion as its own share of the refund.

The Finance Commissioner, Linus Nkan, said: “the governor has given a directive that we use the fund to pay salaries and to the extent that it can cover, pay pensions too.”

According to him, the refund was barely enough to settle indebtedness and commitments of government which include salaries, arrears of pensions and gratuities and contract fees.

In Delta, Titus Okotie, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teacher, NUT, claimed the local government council got N2.1 billion of N10 billion the state received.

Mr. Okotie, said the amount was used in paying the April salaries of primary school teachers and local government council workers in the state.

The chairman said that the teachers were still owed May, June July and August salaries.

But Robert Chukwunyem, state Chairman, NUP, said the pension arrears paid to the 11,000 retirees in the state did not reflect the 33 per cent pension increment of 2010.

However, Charles Aniagwu, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said the 25 local government councils in the state got N2.1 billion of the N10 billion the state received.

Mr Aniagwu said the state government took N7.9 billion due to it, adding that N4.4 billion of it was spent on paying the entitlement arrears owed its retirees and augmenting the councils’ June salaries.

He said the remaining N3.5 billion would be used for capital and recurrent expenditures.

Also in Bayelsa, Jonathan Obuebite, the Information and Orientation Commissioner, said part of the N10 billion the state got was used to pay one and half month salaries owed the workers.

According to him, the state expected N14 billion which would enough for it to pay two months arrears of salaries but got only N10 billion.

The state Chairman of TUC, Tari Dounana, however, said that over four months’ salary arrears were yet to be settled.

He said that the state government paid only one and half months of the six months salary arrears owed workers.

Mr. Dounana said that local government staff and teachers in the state were owed between eight months and one-year arrears of salaries.

Landy Erez, a pensioner, told NAN that the state government owed workers over 10 months arrears of salaries.

Most civil servants and pensioners in Rivers said the state government was up to date in the payment of their salaries and pensions except for the pension increment.

One of them, Rogers Ogan, a primary school teacher, confirmed that his salary had been paid up to date.

Edward Abibo, the Chairman of NUP in Rivers, also said that the state government did not owe pensioners any arrears of pension.

He, however, explained that about 2000 persons who retired in 2014 whose biometrics had yet to be captured into the state payroll had not been paid.

Mr. Abibo said also that the state government had not paid the arrears of the 2003, 2007 and 2010 pension increments.

“Those that have not been receiving their monthly pensions are undergoing biometric verification; I believe after the exercise, they will be put on the payroll,” he said.

NAN reports that the Cross River Government was yet to settle the arrears of retirees’ gratuities in the state.

One of them, Andem Antigha, said that since 2015 when he retired, he had not been paid his gratuity.

Investigation showed that the state government’s UBA account into which the refund was paid was frozen on the order of an Abuja High Court.

This followed a dispute between it and a consulting firm over the payment of the Paris club refund.

The court adjourned the case till September 7, for further deliberations.

NAN survey showed that only one of the five states in the South-east had utilised the refund to clear the arrears of pension and salaries owed to its workers.

The Commissioner for Finance in Abia, Obinna Oriaku, said that the state government utilised the two tranches of the refund in clearing part of the arrears.

Mr. Oriaku said that the state received N5.7 while it expected N16 billion and regretted that the amount could not bring the state out of the woods.

He said that the state government constituted a committee comprising representatives of organised labour and government to handle the disbursement of the fund transparently.

He said that the state had cleared the arrears of salaries of civil servants in some ministries, departments and agencies.

Mr. Oriaku, however, said that the state was still battling with the settlement of arrears of salaries of primary and secondary school teachers as well as those of local government workers.

He said salaries of workers in some organisations, including the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, had not been paid.

The commissioner blamed the backlog of salary arrears in the state on bloated workforce and padding of salaries in the civil service during the past administration.

The state chairman of the NLC, Uchenna Obigwe, confirmed that the state government was transparent in the disbursement of the state’s share of the refund.

He said that the state’s first and second shares of the refund, totalling N16.3 billion, was a far cry from what was required to offset the outstanding payments.

NAN reports that council workers, primary and secondary school teachers as well as staff in some organisations were still owed salary arrears, ranging from two to eight months.

In Enugu State, Virginus Nwobodo, the Chairman of NLC, said that the refund had yet to be shared between the state and the local governments.

He, however, said that the stakeholders had met to decide on the sharing formula.

According to him, the first tranche of the refund was disbursed equitably, without any complaint.

“Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had been transparent and open with every kobo from the refund and has given us the stakeholders, free hand to decide the sharing formula.

Meanwhile, Abel Ologu, a pensioner in Abakaliki, has urged the Ebonyi Government to utilise the refund in clearing salary and pension arrears owed in the state.

Mr. Ologu said that the state government had not disbursed the fund accordingly.

The Chairman of NLC in Anambra, Jerry Nubia, also made a similar appeal to the state government in Awka.

Mr. Nubia said Anambra government owed retirees of the councils, pension arrears from 2015 to date, adding that their number had continued to rise.

He said, however, that the state government workforce and pensioners got their salaries and pensions as and when due.

“The NLC in the state is commending the effort of the state government in ensuring regular payment of salaries and pensions,’’ he said.

Anthony Ugozor, the state Chairman of NUJ, who said the state received about N6.12 billion as its share, corroborated Nubia assertion.

A civil servant, Uchechi Ilechukwu, said that the state government workers received their salaries regularly.

“Anambra state civil servants have been receiving their salaries on the 24th of every month since the inception of Gov. Willie Obiano’s administration,” she said.

Source: NAN

[INFOGRAPH] How Osun Disbursed Second Tranche Of Paris Refund

By Ishola ‘Layinka
The State Government of Osun has released figures explaining in details how it disbursed the N6.314b received from the Federal Government as the second tranche of the Paris Club Refund given to states in the federation.
In an infograph released by the government, the state paid out N5,998,493,302.05 out as salaries, pensions, leave bonuses and other emoluments to its workforce above recommended figures by labour unions in the state. Recall the state through a Revenue Apportionment Committee headed by Comrade Hassan Sunmonu regularly meet with the unions to apportion revenue in the state.
Giving the breakdown, N503,908,457.4 was paid as Leave Bonuses to Civil Servants, N3,768,669,258 was used to pay workers’ salaries as well as clear July and August half-salary arrears of 2015 owed senior cadre of workers in the state.
The State Government of Osun in the infograph said N934,841,306 was used to pay Local Government Workers as a total sum of N791,074,280.8 went to the pockets of the pensioners that retired from the civil service.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016, approved the partial refund of long standing claims by state governments in respect of over-deductions from their Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.
The debt service deductions were in respect of the Paris Club, London Club and Multilateral debts of the Federal and State governments, which Nigeria reached a final agreement for debt relief with the Paris Club in October 2005.
Since the first tranche of the refund was released in November 2016, Osun specifically disbursed the payment by using all the refund to settled workers arrears in the state.
Although, the disbursements were premised on the condition that a minimum of 50 per cent would be applied for the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions but Osun raised the ceiling to more than
.80 per cent.
The government however expressed its determination to fulfill all its financial obligations as soon as the state’s economy improves.

How Osun Spent 2nd Tranche Of Paris Refund

By Ishola ‘Layinka
The State Government of Osun has released figures explaining in details how it disbursed the N6.314b received from the Federal Government as the second tranche of the Paris Club Refund given to states in the federation.
In an infograph released by the government, the state paid out N5,998,493,302.05 out as salaries, pensions, leave bonuses and other emoluments to its workforce above recommended figures by labour unions in the state. Recall the state through a Revenue Apportionment Committee headed by Comrade Hassan Sunmonu regularly meet with the unions to apportion revenue in the state.
Giving the breakdown, N503,908,457.4 was paid as Leave Bonuses to Civil Servants, N3,768,669,258 was used to pay workers’ salaries as well as clear July and August half-salary arrears of 2015 owed senior cadre of workers in the state.
The State Government of Osun in the infograph said N934,841,306 was used to pay Local Government Workers as a total sum of N791,074,280.8 went to the pockets of the pensioners that retired from the civil service.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016, approved the partial refund of long standing claims by state governments in respect of over-deductions from their Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.
The debt service deductions were in respect of the Paris Club, London Club and Multilateral debts of the Federal and State governments, which Nigeria reached a final agreement for debt relief with the Paris Club in October 2005.
Since the first tranche of the refund was released in November 2016, Osun specifically disbursed the payment by using all the refund to settled workers arrears in the state.
Although, the disbursements were premised on the condition that a minimum of 50 per cent would be applied for the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions but Osun raised the ceiling to more than
.80 per cent.
The government however expressed its determination to fulfill all its financial obligations as soon as the state’s economy improves.

JUST IN: Osun Govt To Use 75 Per Cent Paris Refund For Salaries, Pensions

The State Government of Osun has resolved to use 70 per cent of the N6.314 billion of the Paris Club Loan Refund for the payment of salaries and pensions.

This decision was arrived at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by the Governor, Rauf Aregbesola today.
The governor during the weekly SEC meeting assured workers’ across the state of his readiness to prioritise their welfare, adding that the government acted based on the recommendations of workers’ unions in the state.
 It will be recalled that the state government in a statement last Friday confirmed the receipt of second tranche of the Paris refund and promised that the disbursement process will be transparent.
Details later…….

Salaries And Pension To Be Paid After Recieving N10b On Paris Refund Loan – Akwa-Ibom Comissioner

…Salaries, pension arrears to be paid

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Nsikan Linus Nkan Tuesday confirmed that Akwa Ibom State Government has received the second part of the Paris Club Refund of N10 billion after having received the first refund last year December.

According to Nkan, during a media chat, the funds which he noted is barely enough to settle indebtedness and commitment of government, would be used to settle payment of salaries, pension arrears, arrears of gratuities and probably deferring some debt owed to contractors.

His words: “The Governor has given direction that we use the funds to pay salaries and to the extent that it can cover, also pay pensions.”

While admitting that there is pressure from various quarters, however, gave assurances that government would direct so that all parties would be touched.

Shedding light on the first Refund of N14.5billion, the Commissioner said that the State House of Assembly had captured it as strategic revenue for 2017 and was properly appropriated for.

The Finance boss noted that application of the Paris Fund has already been stipulated by the Federal Government where it is meant to be used to settle arrears of salaries and pensions.

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.

Osun Govt Berate Pensioners Over Claims On Paris Club Refund, Demand Apology From Ex-Civil Servants

The Osun State Government has berated the Forum of 2011/12 Retirees in the state civil service over claims that it had collected the just released second tranche of the Paris Club Loan Refund by the federal government to states in the federation a month ago.

The government also demanded that the pensioners come out to the public to apologize over what it described as inflammatory and misinforming statements made to the public that the money had been in government coffers but was being planned on to be diverted for the last Senatorial By-election in Osun West and other “White Elephant government projects.”

A statement by Semiu Okanlawon, the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor said claims by the retirees who protested the non-payment of their pension arrears and gratuities on Wednesday morning in Osogbo were unsubstantial as the government only received the N6.314billion accrued to it from the Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday.

The Osun State Government said in its commitment to promote transparency, it announced the development on Tuesday after most states of the country got the money.

It described the action of the pensioners as ill-timed, embarrassing, confusing and capable of heating up the polity urging the concerned people to apologize immediately.

The statement reads “The attention of the Government of Osun has been drawn to another in the series of protests by a group of pensioners who have filed out again today Wednesday July 19, 2017 for reasons best known to them.

“It is interesting to note that about a month ago, this same set of pensioners accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of collecting and diverting the second tranche of Paris loan refund, which they claimed had been released to Osun State by the federal government.”

“As they have come out today, they have a duty to actually apologise not only to Aregbesola’s government, but also to the good people of Osun State for misinforming, confusing and creating tension in the state through their false claim that the governor had received the second tranche of Paris loan refund about a month ago.”

“Like we have said, Osun State government, with it’s commitment to transparency  under the leadership of Governor Rauf Aregbesola made the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) to confirm the receipt of N6.314billion as the second tranche of Paris loan refund from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”

Okanlawon continued “The money was paid into the account of the state government on Monday and we duly made the announcement yesterday, informing the public that Osun has got the second tranche of Paris loan refund.

Abubakar Yari Of Zamfara Builds $3m Hotel In Lagos With Funds Stolen

Economic and financial Crimes Commission officials in Lagos said they have found a hotel being constructed by Governor Yari of Zamfara state with $3m he stole from London-Paris Club loan refund to Nigerian states.

The governor who is the chairman of the Governor’s Forum illegally diverted N19billion reportedly meant for “consultants” from the Paris club loan refund which had been illegally paid into the account of the  Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) by Nigeria’s Minister of France, Kemi Adeosun and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

SaharaReporters learnt that the hotel is a 100-room property situated in Lekki area of Lagos.

EFCC officials said they have already marked down the hotel as proceeds of corruption and plan to take it over after obtaining a court order.

Apart from the $3million, Governor Yari also diverted N500 million from the Paris Club refund to pay off a loan, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) source revealed to SaharaReporters.

According to the source, Mr. Yari withdrew N500m from the N19 billion Paris Club refund from the account of Nigeria Governors Forum from the N522b allocated to the 36 states and deposited the sum into a mortgage bank account.

Mr. Yari then transferred the sum to the mortgage bank from which he had borrowed N800m to purchase to properties in 2013. According to the source, the governor was able to renegotiate his debt from N800m to N500m.

Overall the governor is said to have embezzled the sum of N2.2 billion from the N19billion set aside illegally to pay “consultants.”

SaharaReporters had earlier revealed that Senate President Bukola Saraki and his cronies are also being investigated by the EFCC for his role in the embezzlement of N3.5b from the Paris Club loan through the slush fund placed at the Access Bank by the Nigeria Governors Forum, who claimed it was meant for consultants.

Source: Sahara Reporters

Exposed! How Osun Spent N11.7bn Paris Club Refund

In December 2016, when the state government of Osun paid out the sum of N13,645,546,673.04 to clear salaries, leave bonuses and pension arrears of four (4) months, many did wonder how the Paris Club refund received a month earlier was allocated.

However, the Accountant General of the state of Osun, Mr. Akintayo Kolawole, has revealed, how the state government expended the sum of N11,744,237,793.56 received from the federal government in November 2016 as first tranche of the Paris Club Refund.

Speaking with Journalists at his office in Osogbo, Mr. Kolawole revealed that the Osun Revenue Apportionment Committee headed by Comrade Hassan Sunmonu agreed for the total Paris Club Refund to be spent on clearing workers salary arrears.

“The revenue apportionment committee agreed that the Paris refund be used in paying salaries and that the sum of N1.9bn be added by the state government to augment salary payment to local government workers,” Mr. Kolawole noted.

Speaking on how a total of N13.6bn was used in paying salary arrears, Mr Kolawole stated that, “the sum of N8,519,437.233.43 was paid out as salaries for September, October, November and December. Similarly, the sum of N924,676,305.24 was paid out as leave bonuses for the four months, while the sum of N2,496,605,100.64 was paid in pensions for the same period.”

Explaining how the state spent above the N11.74bn received as Paris Club Refund, the accountant general noted that the sum of N1,704,828,033.73 was transferred to the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for the payment of salaries at that level.

When contacted, State Chairman of the Triangular Pensioners Association, Prince Rotimi Adelugba confirmed all pensioners in the state received four months of pension arrears as agreed with the state government in December 2016.

Other workers in the state commended the government for making workers’ welfare its priority.

No Paris Loan Refund- Bukola Saraki

Dr Bukola Saraki may not have been credited from the Paris loan Refund as has been alleged in media reports credited to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to the report, Saraki’s aides and Robert Mbonu, his associate, diverted N3.5 billion of the funds.

Mr Mbonu was a consultatnt hired by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to calculate the excess deductions from states between 199 and 2002..

The N3.5bn was part of the N522bn loan refund disbursed to all the states of the federation in December, 2016.

However, the President of the Senate had denied the allegation with his aide also stressing that the EFCC Acting Chairman was only mudslinging because of his rejection by the Senate.

The processing of the first trench of the refund began in 2005 when Saraki was the governor of Kwara state, but the N9.1 billion that went to the state did not come until December 2016.

Kwara State government had issued a statement on March 17 stressing that Saraki did not benefit from the report.

Mr Muideen Akorede, Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Kwara state, said in a statement that the funds were well utilised by the state.

“The Kwara state government wishes to reaffirm that its share of the Paris-London Club refund from the federal government was fully utilised for infrastructure projects, MSME support and infrastructure projects as well as payment of salaries and pensions at state and local government levels,” he said.

“The public is therefore advised to disregard spurious and completely unsubstantiated claims made by a guest on a national television program on Thursday or similar assertions on any other platform to the effect that part of the state’s share of the refund was  paid to a former governor of the state and current senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki or to any other party.

“It is not the state government’s practice to make payments to individuals or organisations without appropriation.”

The Nigerian Governors Forum also stressed that the funds did not go into any personal accounts adding that consultants were hired to facilitate the process.

In a statement issued by Abdulrazque Barkindo, spokesman of the NGF affirmed that the processes for the refund commenced in 2005 but was only released in 2016.

He said that the funds were released because of the desire of President Buhari to reflate the economy at a point when the states were unable to pay salaries.

“It is true that there were conditions attached to the disbursements but these arose from the collective and voluntary resolution of the governors and not any draconian order from any quarters.

“It shows that the governors themselves are responsible, sensitive and compassionate enough to understand the plight of Nigerians that they govern and therefore work 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 monies were paid into the personal account of any governor, legislator or top officials at any of the levels and arms of government in the country.

“This brings us to the issue of consultants who facilitated the process. Indeed, a number of consultants were saddled with the task of verifying the amounts due to each of the states. These consultants were recruited by the respective states but were eventually collapsed into a consortium of only a few, even though the others who did not make it to the final group were reimbursed according to their input.

“It may interest the readers that many more consultants throughout the country are still insisting that they did work on this same Paris-London Clubs repayments since a decade ago and that they are entitled to some compensation as well.

“Many of them had actually and verifiably done some work in the past and negotiated a fee of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, with the different states that engaged them. It was therefore immoral and impossible to deny each their due, provided their input is verified and justified.

“It should be noted that if the federal government under the watch of President Buhari had found anything corrupt, illegal and unpatriotic about the payment or the utilisation of the first tranche of the Paris-London Clubs fund repayment to states, it would not have approved the payment of the second tranche to the states. After all, we all know the unimpeachable level of commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari on the issues of transparency and accountability. In any case, those writing those fictitious reports on the payment have also acknowledged that the president had insisted on the verification of the process of utilization of the first tranche before the second is approved for release. Note also most importantly at this juncture that every decision that was taken in respect of all the transactions was with the full consent and blessing of the 36 governors.

“We therefore find the insinuation in the media that monies went into the private accounts of seven unidentified governors as not only preposterous but mischievous.”

On March 16, the president directed the ministry of finance and CBN to act with dispatch in releasing the second tranche of the funds.

He wondered if the President would have directed the release of the second tranche if there were misappropriations with the first payment.