by AljazirahNigeria | December 18, 2017 8:00 am
By Yemi Esho, Abuja
There are clear indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have written to President Muhammadu Buhari for an executive order to commence investigations on governors who are alleged to have mismanaged tranches of the Paris Club refund disbursed to states to alleviate the suffering of workers in their states.
AljazirahNigeria can authoritatively report that eight governors have already been penciled down by the anti-graft agency in a move to ensure that the said funds are accounted for and use for the purpose they were released.
Government workers in most states of the federation have been at the mercy of the governors who lavish the release funds on frivolous and white elephant projects that have no direct impact on the workers and the economy of their respective states. The governors even called the bluff of the President saying he does not have the authority to query them how they spent the Paris Club largesse or what they used it to do. While the workers have been subjected to abject poverty and penury, the governors, their families and aides live in opulence and affluence.
Investigations conducted by AljazirahNigeria confirmed that a governor from Northwest Nigeria used the large chunk of the first tranche of the Paris Club refund to build hotels in choice areas in Lagos to the tune of $3million which the governor vehemently denied. The EFCC was reported to have said that it found a hotel being constructed by the said governor with $3 million he allegedly stole from the London Paris Club loan refund to states.
Another governor whose state is notorious for not paying salaries and has been on the verification of workers since assuming office almost two years now has just completed his state-of-the-art country home with dignitaries which included a prominent traditional ruler in the state gracing the house-warming ceremony. It is an irony that while workers and pensioners groan under the pain of unpaid salary arrears and pensions, a governor could have the audacity to open such a magnificent country home.
Also, a certain governor from the southwest has been gallivanting around the world with his wife lodging in expensive hotels and organized series of unnecessary parties while workers in the state are owed backlog of salaries and cannot send their children to school and meet other urgent family demands. It is in this line that the EFCC has written to President Buhari to commence investigations on the profligacy attitude of the governors.
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A source in the Presidency confirmed that the President was not impressed by the inability of the governors to offset workers’ salaries, particularly pension arrears which many states are battling to clear despite the huge funds that have been deployed by the Federal Government through the refund. The President had during a meeting with the governors at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, in October. “How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months”, Buhari was quoted to have said when he met some select governors under the aegis of the Governors’ Forum.
AljazirahNigeria recalls that pressure has been on the President in the last few months to ensure that the state governments account for the tranches they have received from the Paris Club from day one. The released fund so far is closed to N1 trillion. Nigerians have accused the governors of being responsible for the high rate of crime in the country because of their wicked act. Students now roam the streets during school hours and engage in unwholesome activities due to the incapacitated nature of their parents whose source of income was not forthcoming.
“Instead of paying salaries, the governors have indulged in act of fraud which belittles the office. The eight serving governors are likely to face corruption charges at the end of their respective tenures. It is a normal routine for the EFCC to brief the President on high profile criminal cases and for record purposes. The President has never influenced any investigation but just to put him in the know to prevent future occurrences,” a source from the Presidency stated.
A reliable source in EFCC also confirmed to AljazirahNigeria that the anti-graft body wrote a memo to Mr President that compiled the details of names of the governors, fictitious accounts and accomplices used to commit the fraud including choice properties bought with the money. “It is painful that these governors are embarrassment to Nigeria. The privilege they are enjoying now is the immunity clause, but the game will be over soon, and they will be prosecuted accordingly.” In the letter, the EFCC gave an account of all cases in court as well as top personalities penciled down for arrest. However, on the Mainagate case, the EFCC kept mute but informed the President that work is in progress without detailed analysis on the case.
Nevertheless, the governors have dared the EFCC insisting that they are ready for probe. The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the umbrella body of all the 36 states’ governors has expressed the readiness of the excellencies to submit to EFCC probe.
The head of media and public affairs of the NGF, Abdulrazaq Bello Barkindo, in a press statement said the allegations against the governors were not true. The statement titled, “The NGF and the Paris-London Clubs Loan Refund: Putting The Records Straight”, read in part:
“Apart from stating that these papers are unfounded and are only figment of the imagination of the writers, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum wishes to categorically state that nothing illegal has been committed in the entire process of leading to the final disbursement to states of the first tranche of the Paris-London Clubs repayment of the excess deductions from states’ coffers and refund of their loans.”
“Following the barrages of innuendos, untruths and outright falsehoods that have pervaded the media, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum deems it imperative to shed light on the transactions that followed and put the records straight. The Paris-London Clubs loan refund has been on the cards since 2005. Successive state governors had tried to get reimbursement for the excess deductions from their states in the past but did not succeed. The failure resulted from a number of reasons, varying from one state to the other. It is therefore to the Nigeria Governors Forum’s credit that these sets of governors were able to persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to authorize the release of the funds for disbursement to deserving states. President Buhari’s desire to reflate the economy at a time when states were insolvent and unable to pay salaries was why he acceded to the request by the current group of governors that the money be released to the states…
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Also defending the EFCC allegations, Zamfara State Governor and chairman of the NGF, Abdulaziz Yari, accused the EFCC of lacking investigative instinct but only act on petition sent to it, real or fictitious.
He said, “I believe the EFCC does not have its own engineers to quantify, to know what is exactly on the ground. And a project that is done in Rivers State for N2m, in Zamfara it will be about N150,000. You cannot say the price of things in Rivers should be the same in Zamfara or somewhere else. The terrain is entirely different, and the cost is different, the risk as well is entirely different. So, all these are taken into consideration.
”If there is a project, which is suspected to be inflated, there are quantity surveyors. You can’t just because somebody wrote a petition, then; you say you are working on it without doing your own due diligence. Then, why is the EFCC pursuing the governors? Get these people if you are really going to fight it. If you are ready for it, get anybody who did the wrong thing. “To me, I am going to write to the Federal Government that enough is enough; that either the EFCC should do its work or we should ‘do showdown’ with them (EFCC) because nobody became governor to be intimidated, to be harassed, to be abused by a DCP.”
Whatever the argument is, the truth about the Paris Club Refund and the disbursement will definitely come to the public domain one day and Nigerians will see the faces of thieves who impoverish the people they supposed to cater for.
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