CONTROVERSY TRAILS FG’S SPECIAL FUNDS FOR STATES

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• APC, PDP trade words
• Ekiti got legitimate earning, not bailout, says Fayose
• Presidency denies drawing funds from ECA
• Okonjo-Iweala claims ‘missing $2bn’ was for subsidy
CONTROVERSY now trails the Federal Government’s bailout package for cash-strapped states as widely reported in the media yesterday.
While the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the National Council of Muslim Youth Ornanisations (NACOMYO) commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s reported release of N713.7billion to bail out states, Governor Ayodele Fayose said Ekiti got N2.1billion legitimate earning, not bailout.
Fayose argued that Ekiti State’s share (N2.1bn) of the N413.7 billion ($2.1bn) from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) was legitimate earning to the state and not bailout from the Federal Government.
The governor said it was necessary to correct the erroneous impression created by some newspaper reports that listed the state among those that got bailout from the Federal Government.
Fayose, who said the N2.1billion being expected could not pay the N2.6billion wage bill for June, however assured workers in the state that he would strive to raise the balance to ensure June salary would be paid next week.
Apparently elated by the gesture, the APC described the President as a father for all for coming to the aid of suffering workers by approving special intervention funds to bail the states out of their precarious financial conditions.
In a statement issued by APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was particularly delighted that the President has shown that he is truly the father of the nation by eschewing partisanship in approving the intervention fund for all the states. “We say this because when states were financially handicapped during the tenure of the last Federal Government, opposition states were hung out to dry while states belonging to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got generous bailouts.”
However, Fayose, who spoke at a media parley in Ado Ekiti said the N2.1billion being expected could not pay the N2.6billion wage bill for June. He, however, assured workers in the state that he would strive to raise the balance to ensure June salary would be paid next week.
In the same vein, PDP declared that “the N804 billion released to bail the states” out of their present financial trouble was part of the funds saved by it when in power.
The PDP, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said the party “notes that a significant amount of the bailout came from savings accumulated in the Excess Crude Account handed over to the Buhari-led APC administration by the past PDP-led administration.
“This development is in clear contradiction to the earlier impression given by President Buhari to Nigerians and the international community that they should not expect much from his administration in its first 100 days because, according to him, upon assumption of office, he met a virtually empty treasury.
“We want to believe that given the President’s release of such huge amount, he may have realised that he was earlier misdirected on the actual financial state of the nation at the time he took over. In this regard, we expect the President, as a respected statesman to do the needful to correct that erroneous impression.”
PDP, therefore, charged the APC as a party in government to put its house in order, desist from injecting confusion and distracting the President from settling down to form a government and face the enormous challenges of governance, especially the implementation of his long list of campaign promises to Nigerians.
It said Nigerians are no longer interested in insults, tirades and propaganda but in actions and policies that would move the nation forward.
But the Presidency yesterday distanced itself from a statement credited to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGoF), Ahmed Idris, that Buhari ordered the sharing of money in the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
Idris had, while briefing State House correspondents on Monday, said the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting would share the $1.7 billion from the ECA among the three tiers of government.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, however, said reports in sections of the media that funds would be drawn from the ECA for the relief package approved by Buhari for states and local governments were incorrect.
According to the statement, the President only approved “the sharing of the $2.1 billion dividend paid to the Federation Account by the NLNG; a CBN-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, ranging from N250 billion to N300 billion as a soft loan available to states for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries; and a debt relief programme designed by the Debt Management Office, which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660 billion, and extend the life span of such loans while reducing their debt-servicing expenditures.”
The statement added that the measures approved by Buhari did not include drawing down the balance in the ECA or the “liquidation” of the account as some media outlets have wrongly reported.
Also yesterday, the Accountant-General of the Federation noted with great concern that the information in the public domain was inconsistent with the details of the amount distributed at the emergency FAAC meeting on Monday, July 6, 2015.
In a statement to provide further clarification about the outcome of the said emergency FAAC meeting, he said:
• the amount distributed was not from the excess crude account ECA but rather the accrued company income tax (CIT) realised from the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) N359, 374,355, 607.60;
• the amount that was distributed was less the cost of collection;
• the Federal Government got 56.68% amounting to N181,745,674,112.72
• the state governments got 26.72% amounting to N92,183,834,705.62;
• local government councils got 20.60% amounting to N71,069,872,564.96.
“The public is also invited to please note that no withdrawal was made from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and that the current balance still remains $2.1 billion,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has explained that the alleged ‘missing $2 billion’ from ECA was actually not missing as insinuated, but was approved by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for payment of oil subsidy claims to marketers.
Okonjo-Iweala, who re-iterated this in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, was reacting to a claim by some state finance commissioners that the Federal FAAC did not authorise the withdrawal.
-Guardian

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