Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, may have run into fresh trouble with the Federal Government after it was found that he collected the sum of N8.877 billion from the N388.304 billion released to 35 states as refunds from over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans but only paid one out of the eight-month salary arrears he owed workers in the state.
Fayose was also said to have paid a curious 13th month salary as bonus while the arrears of seven-month salaries owed the workers were left unpaid.
A reliable source in the Presidency, who spoke in confidence with one of our correspondents yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari has lived up to his pledge to ease salary crises in all the states by releasing N388.304 billion to 35 states but many of the states failed to abide by the agreement they had with the President that they would give preference to settling arrears of workers’ salaries.
The Presidency source said: “The agreement between the Federal Government and the state governors was very clear.
“While 50 per cent of the amount released was to be used to offset outstanding salary and pension arrears, the remaining 50 per cent would be used for the payment of other obligations.
“Some governors have however reneged on this agreement.
“Security reports available to the Presidency showed that Governor Ayodele Fayose paid only one month out of eight-month salary arrears.
“The same governor went ahead to pay a curious 13-month salary to Ekiti workers. Yet, he got N8.877 billion refund.
“Instead of accounting for what he used the loan refund for, he has the temerity to attack the Federal Government on hardship in the country.
“The relevant agencies are monitoring development in Ekiti and some states.”
Reacting to the allegation on the telephone yesterday, Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Toyin Ojo, admitted that the state got N8.8 billion from the Paris Club refunds.
But he said that the state’s share of the money was only N5.3 billion, which he said could barely pay one month out of the arrears of salaries owed the civil servants in the state.
According to him, the wage bill for a month stands at N5.2 billion.
He also said that workers in the local government sector could only get one month from the arrears of salaries owed them.
The Federal Government had released the sum of N388.304 billion out of N522.74 billion
to 35 states as refunds of over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans.
Topping the list of states with the hugest reimbursements are states controlled by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contrary to their claims that they were being financially oppressed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The biggest earners include Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Jigawa, Borno, Niger, Bauchi and Benue states.
But the reimbursement profile has shown that some governors fed their states with wrong figures of the sums given to them.
Investigation revealed that 35 of the 36 states benefitted from the refunds of N388.304 billion.
Although most of the governors have begged the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, not to make the list of reimbursements public.
The document indicated that all the 35 states were credited with their shares of the N388.304 billion as at December 27, 2016.
Our correspondent obtained the names of the bank, the account and the account numbers where each state’s share was remitted.
Only Kano State and the FCT have so far not benefitted from the reimbursements.
According to the list, Kwara State got two types of refund totaling more than N9.188 billion.
Kwara’s shares include N5,415,167,236.97 refund to the state government and N3,773,082,953.54 for its 16 local government areas.
Findings also confirmed that Ondo was only paid 50 per cent of its refunds (N6,513,392,932.28) because of leadership change in the state, which will soon lead to the inauguration of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu as the new governor.
A breakdown of the list of top beneficiaries of the refunds is as follows: Akwa Ibom, N14,500,000,000.00; Bayelsa, N14,500,000,000.00; Delta, N14,500,000,000.00; Kastina, N14,500,000,000.00; Lagos, N14,500,000,000.00; Rivers, N14,500,000,000.00; Kaduna, N14,362,416,363.24; Borno, N13,654,138,849.49; Bauchi, N12,792,664,403.93; Benue, N12,749,689,453.61; Sokoto, N11,980,499,096.97; Osun, N11,744,237,793.56; Anambra, N11,386,281,466.35; Edo, N11,329,495,462.04; Cross River, N11,300,139,741.28; Kogi, N11,211,573,328.19 and Kebbi, N11,118,149,054.10.
The document said: “Ondo payment represents 50 per cent of the refund due to transition of leadership in the state. Further instructions are being awaited on balance payment.
“Adamawa, Kwara 22b on the list, Oyo and Taraba payments represent the portions due to the respective local governments.”
But the Presidency was uncomfortable with the attitude of some state governors to the management of the refunds.
Responding to a question, another source in government said: “It is unfortunate that some state governors under-declared the refunds made to them.
“Some of them were also discovered to be giving spurious analysis in order to cover up the actual figures.
“In fact, some states changed the agreement overnight.
“A state said the President asked states to use at least 25 per cent of their London and Paris Club refund to offset salary arrears.”
Investigation showed that about N134.44 billion out of the approved N522.74 billion will soon be paid as refunds to some states.
The top government source added: “Yes, as at December 27, 2016, all the 35 states had received the N388.3 billion refunds. The balance of N134.44 billion will soon be accessed.”
Following protests by states against over-deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammed Buhari had on December 2, 2016 approved the release of N522.74 billion to states as refunds pending reconciliation of records.
Each state is entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25 per cent of the amounts claimed.
But the government has raised a team to scrutinise claims by states and reconcile with available records.
These developments were contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi.
The statement said: “The Federal Government has reached a conditional agreement to pay 25% of the amounts claimed subject to a cap of N14.5 billion to any given state. Balances due thereafter will be revisited when fiscal conditions improve.
“Mr. President’s overriding concern is for the welfare of the Nigerian people, considering the fact that many states are owing salaries and pension, causing considerable hardship.
“Therefore, to ensure compliance with the directive that a minimum of 50% of any amount disbursed is dedicated to this, funds will be credited to an auditable account from which payments to individual creditors would be made. Where possible, such payments would be made to BVN linked accounts and verified.”
But any state paid refunds in excess of its outstanding claims might suffer deduction from its monthly allocations from the Federation Account.
It said: “Due to the fact that reconciliation is still ongoing and the final outcome might show an under or overstatement of claims, an undertaken has been signed by state governors, declaring that in the event the amount already paid exceeds the verified claim, the surplus would be deducted directly from the state’s monthly FAAC allocations.
“The total amount approved by the President is N522.74 billion and is to be paid in batches. The first batch of N153.01 billion is currently being processed for release to 14 state governments.
“The release of these funds is intended to support the fiscal stimulus programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to provide direct stimulus through government spending. It is particularly aimed at boosting demand at consumer level and reversing the slowdown in economic activity.”