There are strong indications that five states may get the highest allocation out of the N649.43bn expected to be paid by the Federal Government to state governments from the final tranche of the Paris Club loan refund.
The states, according to investigations by our correspondent, are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers.
Findings by our correspondent in Abuja showed that due to their strategic importance in terms of revenue allocation, the five states had suffered the highest deductions when the loans for the payment of the Paris club debt were being deducted from the federation account.
It was also gathered that the Federal Government might not pay the final tranche of the N649.43bn refund until after May 29 when new states’ chief executive officers are sworn in.
A top government official confided in said that states that got the highest allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee were those that suffered highest deductions during the payment of the Paris club debt. The Paris Club refunds are the longstanding claims resulting from reported over-deductions regarding Paris Club debts made from state government accounts as far back as 1995 to 2002.
These refunds are over-deductions from the states’ FAAC payments for foreign loan servicing over the stated period. The refunds have been the subject of dispute between the federal and state governments for quite some time.
The source told our correspondent that now that the amount was being refunded, the same pattern that was adopted for the deduction would be used for the refund.
The source stated, “You will recall that in December 2016, the first tranche of Paris Club refund was made to the state governments.
“The amount given was about N516bn, and out of this, five states — Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers — got the highest amount of about N135bn.
“A few months later, we released the second tranche of N243bn, and each of these five states got about N10bn which makes about N50bn.”
The source added, “Now that work has been concluded on the final tranche, I can tell you that they will also receive more than other states.
“This is because deductions for the payment of the debt were made from FAAC allocations and these states received more money than any other states of the federation due to the revenue sharing formula.
“So it is natural that since they suffered huge deductions during the payment of the loan a few years back, now that the money is being refunded by the Federal Government to states, they will get what was deducted.”
On when the ministry will start the release of the money, the source said the release of the fund would depend on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
He said, “We have done our own job by verifying how much would be paid to the states government as the final tranche.
“But you know that the administration is winding down in two weeks and from what we are hearing, the cabinet may be dissolved next week.
“So there is no possibility that the money will be released before the dissolution of the cabinet.
“Secondly, there will also be a change of government in many of the states. So, you don’t expect that such huge sums of money would be released by the Federal Government to state governments at this time when there are so many uncertainties.
“From the look of things, the release of the fund may be done when the new administration settles down after the formation of a new cabinet.”
The Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Ella, said he had no information on when the amount would be released.
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NOSDRA Yet To Discover Cause Of Dead Fishes On N’Delta Coastline
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), says it is yet to establish any link between oil leaks and death fishes that float and litter the Atlantic coastline across the Niger Delta region.
The agency said it was coordinating a multi-agency investigation, aimed at unraveling the cause of the reported massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond the oil industry.
Director-General of NOSDRA, Mr Idris Musa, told newsmen in a telephone chat on Wednesday in Yenagoa, that investigation was already ongoing in spite the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Musa, officials of NOSDRA deployed from Warri, Yenagoa and Port Harcourt have conducted site visits to the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers to collect water and fish samples for tests.
”NOSDRA carried out a reconnaissance of the area in Delta where we first got the report through a member of a non- governmental organisation.
“There is no incident of oil spill within the area of reported dead fishes, notwithstanding that a few dead fishes were seen along the shoreline.
“The event of recent days where the death of fishes in large numbers make it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause of death of fishes in such large numbers,” he said.
Musa said that the agency collected samples of water, sediments and some of the dead fishes for laboratory testing, and in doing so, brought on board other relevant government agencies that have mandate on the territorial waters, in particularly the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) and the Federal Institute of Fisheries Research.
“Also, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for all hands on deck assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.
The NOSDRA chief executive said that the results of ongoing laboratory analysis would be compared with results from the participating agencies to profer an effective solution and ensures a more stringent regulation in future.
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