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Don’t Release N649bn Paris Club Refund To Outgoing Govs, NLC, Others Tell FG

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Don’t Release N649bn Paris Club Refund To Outgoing Govs, NLC, Others Tell FG

Don’t Release N649bn Paris Club Refund To Outgoing Govs, NLC, Others Tell FG
May 18
03:54 2019

The Nigeria Labour Congress and some civil society organisations have advised the Federal Government to delay the disbursement of the N649bn Paris Club  refund to states until after  the  inauguration of incoming governors on May 29.

The advice  followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday that the Federal Government was set to disburse the outstanding N649.434bn to  states. Speaking at a press conference  on the activities of her ministry, Ahmed  said  the  money  was  the last tranche of the refund.

She said, “For the final phase of the Paris Club debt refund, the total sum of N649.434bn was verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded  state governments.

“The payments made by the Central Bank of Nigeria as of March 2019 is N691.56bn. The increase in CBN payments partly arose from the exchange rate differential at the point of payment. Although some states still have outstanding balances, they will be refunded in due course.”

But reacting to the development, the President  of the NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, told our correspondent on Friday that the union’s recommendation to the  Federal Government would be to delay the disbursement  of the money till after May 29, when  the newly elected governors would have been sworn in. He said the reasons border on accountability and the manner  the  previous refunds were used  by some governors.

Wabba  said, “The incumbent governors have a few days to go, so I am of the strong view that the money should actually be given to the  incoming governors who would start on a clean slate and address substantial issues in governance.

“Clearly, some of the outgoing governors would like to use the money to pay severance allowances, which I think is not a priority,  and you know that some of the states have spent huge amount of money on  their  build-up  for  the 2019 elections.”

The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project also said the disbursement  of the money should be deferred  until after May 29.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in an interview with our correspondent, said, “Since many of them are  in  the twilight of their tenure, the payment should be delayed till after the inauguration of new governors.

“If somebody has only a couple of days (11 days) to the end of his tenure, why give them an opportunity to superintend that volume of money.”

The President of the  Campaign for Democracy, Bako  Usman,  told Saturday PUNCH that paying the money to states where governors did not account for the money  received earlier could be counterproductive.

But the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said both returning and new governors could not be trusted but that the Federal Government should set up a monitoring team that would track the money from when it is disbursed to when it is used.

He said, “We know the kind of politicians we have and we cannot trust them, both incoming and outgoing. The incoming governors could see it as a welcome package while the outgoing ones may see it as severance benefit.”

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