Controversy over claims by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, that the Federal Government printed N60billion to augment March allocation from the Federation Account, took a different dimension, yesterday, as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, revealed that governors actually wanted to borrow money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for the shortfall, saying that the government turned down the request.
Obaseki had said two weeks ago that, ”When we got FAAC for March, the Federal Government printed additional N50-N60billion to top-up for us to share.
“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16trillion.”
This claim has generated much controversy in the polity, with the Federal Government insisting that the governor lied in his claim.
The Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, had also dismissed Obaseki’s claim, describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”
The development also pitted governors of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), against their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), counterparts, weekend, with governors on both sides of the divide defending their own.
But speaking on the issue in a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), breakfast programme, Good Morning Nigeria, yesterday, the minister said the Federal Government turned down a request by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to augment the N50billion Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), shortfall in March.
Ahmed said that whenever there was reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government took money from some reserve accounts, but noted that in the case of March allocation which fell by N50billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.
She said, “It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the state; we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue.
“In the month of March, we had a shortfall at FAAC that is almost about N50billion and we did not have enough accrual in any of those accounts. The states, to be honest, wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.
“So, it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that CBN has printed money for FAAC. That was very unfortunate because it is not true.
“As a nation, the federal, state and local governments must review expenditure patterns. We are spending too much and we are not generating enough.”
Ahmed noted that Nigeria emerged from its second recession in four years in the fourth quarter, but lamented that revenues remained subdued as a fall in crude prices curbed the main source of income for the nation.
The minister said government’s aim was to triple its revenue ratio to 15 per cent of gross domestic product.
“After revenue collapsed during the last oil shock of 2015, Nigeria turned to the Central Bank, borrowing about a third of its debt to cover a budget deficit that tripled during that time,” Ahmed had said, adding that the government would limit deficit monetization and convert those loans into long-term notes.
Meanwhile, as controversy over the alleged printing of N60billion rages, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), yesterday, said that its silence on the matter was deliberate.
The Chairman of NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, stated this, yesterday, while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, in Abuja.
Fayemi was flanked by the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Governors Forum and Vice Chairman of NGF, as well as Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Lalong; as well as the chairman of the Conference of Speakers.
When Tambuwal was asked to comment on the position of the PDP Governors Forum over the attack on the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, for saying the CBN printed N60billion to be shared at FAAC, Fayemi interjected, saying he could as well answer the question as chairman of NGF on behalf of Tambuwal, who is the vice chairman.
He said, “He (Tambuwal) is not here as chairman of PDP Governors Forum, I can even talk on behalf of him here, he is here as my vice chairman, and have you heard any statement from the NGF on this?”
Asked why the NGF decided not to issue any statement on the matter, he said, “It is because this is not an issue that requires a statement from the governors; the minister of finance has dealt with it, the issue is out there for you to deal with.”
Northern Senators’ Forum Seeks Lasting Solutions To Insecurity
Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, Sen. Aliyu Wamakko, (APC-Sokoto) has called for lasting solutions to tackle the menace of insecurity in the country.
Wamakko made the call while briefing newsmen after the caucus’ closed-door session, held in Abuja, last Wednesday.
He said: “We must continue to find more solutions that can be applied to the security challenges.
“Of course, there are many ways of finding a solution. I know we are using the security outfit very well, but there are other ways of finding lasting solutions to the challenges, facing our country today.
“We are concerned as Nigerians and as northerners.
“This country has to be as free as possible, so that every Nigerian can move freely to do their normal businesses without any fear or security challenge, “he said.
He noted that at resumption on June 22, the forum would hold another meeting which would be aimed at strengthening the decisions taken so far.
Reps Seek End To Abuses In Orphanages
The House of Representatives has appealed to the Federal Government to end incessant abuses in orphanages across the country by the operators.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. James Owolabi (APC-Lagos) at yesterday’s plenary in Abuja
Speaking on the motion, Owolabi said that many orphanages were not registered, making it impossible for the authorities to ascertain the actual number of children in their custody.
He said that the unregistered orphanages were also involved in illegal operations such as child trafficking and nocturnal abuse of children.
He said it was the responsibility of government to protect the lives and property of citizens including orphans.
The House therefore, urged the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to collaborate with relevant agencies of government towards ending the abuse.
It mandated the committee on Women Affairs to ensure compliance.
Ganduje Restates Commitment To Community Policing In Kano
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has reiterated his commitment to continue partnering with stakeholders in the security sector to ensure the state is safe and peaceful.
Ganduje made this known when the Nigeria Police Force Community Policing Agenda, appointed him as its National Patron.
In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Abba Anwar in Kano, Ganduje said:”we have community policing at the village, ward , local government, emirates levels.
“We chose 16 young people from each of the 44 local governments areas of the state for constabulary training,” he said.
Responding, the National Secretary of the association, Amb. Ibrahim Aboki said that the governor was nominated for his efforts in strengthening community policing.
“This is a man of honesty, integrity and philanthropy, the able and amiable dynamic leader and a ”Goal Getter:
“The security champion, we are presenting to you, an award and a letter as a National Patron.
“We duly acknowledge your role in pioneering, promoting and consolidating all security formations, security agencies and special constabularies,” he said.
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