President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja assured state governors that the days of impunity, lack of accountability, and fiscal recklessness in the management of national resources are over in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting with the governors in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, President Buhari also vowed that funds stolen by government officials who abused their offices in the recent past will be recovered and systemic leakages stopped even as he promised immediate lifeline from the Excess Crude Account to governors whose states were owing many months of unpaid workers salaries.
In statement issued shortly after the meeting, and signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted that president as saying that, “There are financial and administrative instructions in every government parastatal and agency. But all these were thrown to the dogs in the past. Honestly, our problems are great, but we will do our best to surmount them.
“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best,” the President told the governors.
Expressing surprise that the governors had tolerated the atrocities allegedly committed with the Excess Crude Account since 2011, President Buhari promised to tackle the issue decisively.
The President declared that the payment of national revenue into any account other than the Federation Account was an abuse of the constitution, adding that what he had heard was going on in many agencies and corporations, particularly the NNPC, was clearly illegal.
On the refund of monies spent on federal projects by state governments, President Buhari assured the governors that the Federal Government will pay, but insisted that due process must be followed.
The President promised special assistance for the three North Eastern states badly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also said that a comprehensive statement on the economic and financial situation inherited by his administration will be made to the nation within the next four weeks.
“We will try and put the system back into the right position. What happened in the 2nd Republic has apparently happened again, and even worse, but we will restore sanity to the system,” President Buhari assured the governors.
On an immediate lifeline for states that owe salaries running into many months, President Buhari said that a committee headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will look at the Excess Crude Account and see what can be shared immediately.
The governors, led by Chairman of the Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had presented a wish list to the President that included, obedience of extant Supreme Court ruling that all monies go into the Consolidated Federation Account; an order from the President that all revenue generating agencies must pay into the Consolidated Federation Account; and a review of the Revenue Allocation Formula.
Others include the refund of the monies expended by states on federal projects; a special consideration for the three states of the North East under Boko Haram infestation; as well as full details of the amounts that accrued into the Excess Crude Account from 2011, and how the money miraculously shrank without official sharing.
Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abdullaziz Yari, who briefed reporters after the meeting, said that instead of the bailout they requested, the state governments were told to look inwards and generate needed funds to clear their debts.
Giving other details of the meeting, Yari said the state governors also requested that the Nigerian Liquefied Gas Company’s tax should be paid into the Federation Account and be shared.
They also asked the Federal Government to ensure that monies accruing from the Federation Account should be shared, as stipulated by the constitution, Yari further disclosed.
It is the first time President Buhari would be meeting with the governors to find a solution to the financial crisis that has made no fewer than 23 of the states owe salaries to their workers to the tune of N100 billion (about $5million).
Other issues in the front burner include how to curb insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and what the president is doing in collaboration with the international community.
The governors also expressed concerns over the decision to dismantle military check points, stressing that it was not the right time for such decision.
He said: “In our meeting today with the President today, we identified the problems and we are working towards addressing, solving the problems and not how to share money.
“At least, we need to work faster and rescue (the economy) and I want you to note that the economic crisis is not limited to the states.
“The states are not as bad as that. We made this very clear to the President that the total debts of the states, including the Federal Capital Territory, is N658 billion when put together.
“But the domestic debt of the Federal Government is N5.5 trillion. Therefore, we appreciate that all of us are in a problem.
“The Federal Government cannot pay salaries of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the states cannot pay salaries of teachers and other workers.“
Gov. Muhammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, who also addressed the correspondents, dismissed the perception that their meeting with the President was to share monies among the three tiers of government.
According to him, the meeting is to enable the President and the governors to share ideas.
He said: “Let us understand first and foremost that the meeting was not about sharing. The meeting was about cross-fertilisation of ideas between the President and the governors of the various states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“And if you hear about ‘sharing‘, all we are saying is we are operating under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“If you heard anything ‘sharing‘, it refers to the excess crude account and you know that as at today, the excess crude account has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“So, the issue is not all about sharing and in fact, we have come to assure Mr President that in our own individual rights, in our states, we are taking action to assuage the situation.
“We are blocking loopholes; we are trying to stamp out corruption so that the business of government will be done in accordance with extant rules.“
Some of the governors present include those of Rivers, Nasarawa, Imo, Gombe, Benue, Delta, Niger, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kogi, Borno, Jigawa, Ogun, Kebbi, Kwara, Taraba, Ekiti, Ondo, Kaduna, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Anambra, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Lagos, Adamawa, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Yobe, Plateau (deputy), Bayelsa (deputy).
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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