11 states to seek N300.5bn refund from FG…as Buhari meets govs today

President Muhammadu Buhari

Many state governors will at their meeting on Tuesday(today) with President Muhammadu Buhari demand the refund of billions of naira they spent on Federal Government projects in their respective states during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

A greater chunk of the money went into the rehabilitation of federal roads in the states.

For instance, 11 out of the   36 states of the federation will be demanding the refund of N300.5bn from Buhari.

Following their inability to pay their workers’ salaries, many states said a bailout from the Federal Government was the only option available to them.

The Nigeria Labour Congress had in May said that 18 states had not paid salaries of their workers.

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, at its meeting on June 18, demanded from Buhari, the refund of money spent by the states on Federal Government projects.

The forum argued that doing so was the only option before them since the Federal Government was also not liquid.

Their Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Zamafara State, Abdullazez Yari, had said, “We all know that the economy of the country is in a bad shape. So, what we suggested and agreed on was that a number of state governors have executed various projects for the Federal Government.

“So, instead of looking for that (bailout), let us ask the Federal Government to settle that backlog owe us so that we can move forward

Findings by The PUNCH on Monday showed that amounts the Federal Government owed each state ranged from N1bn to N105bn.

Rivers State tops the list with a demand of N105bn spent on the construction and rehabilitation of federal roads and related infrastructure.

An official of the state government   told one of our correspondents that the amount was used to pay for the rehabilitation of over 405 kilometres of federal roads within the state and a few others linking the neighbouring states.

The official, who did not want his name in print , listed some of the roads as the Port Harcourt-Owerri Road (Rivers axis), the Rumuokuta-Choba Road, the Aba Road (Eleme Junction interchange), the Ikwerre Road (from Park to Agip Flyover), among others.

The amount is said to be part of the funds spent by the former administration of Rotimi Amaechi. His successor, Nyesom Wike, is expected to demand the refund of the sum   to enable his administration to meet its obligations to workers and continue with   ongoing projects.

Rivers State is closely followed by Lagos State which   is owed N60bn.

The money is what the former government of Babatunde Fashola spent on the rehabilitation of federal roads in various parts of the state. Governor Akinwumi Ambode will be expected to demand a refund of the money to build on the achievements of his predecessor.

The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, will be demanding a refund of about N17bn from the Federal Government. Part of the money was spent on the construction of the Dutse International Airport as well as the rehabilitation of several kilometres of federal roads within the state by former Governor Sule Lamido.

The     Ogun State is said to have   spent N4bn   on federal projects in the state.

Our correspondent had gathered that   the present administration of Ibikunle Amosun   also executed some federal projects in the state.

A government official, who spoke on the issue said, “The figure we inherited   was N4bn but we have worked on many federal roads and I am not sure of what has been certified with the government at the centre.

“The actual process involves the relevant Federal ministry certifying the work and agreeing on the figure.

“If it’s a road, it is Federal Ministry of Works; if it is environment, it will be Federal Ministry of Environment. A state government cannot unilaterally declare that the Federal Government owes it this or that, there is a process.”

In Oyo State, the immediate past Secretary to the government, Olalekan Alli, told one of our correspondents that the Federal Government owed the state N40bn, which could rise to N60bn if other costs are added.

The state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had directed one of our correspondents to contact Alli when he was confronted with questions on how much the Federal Government owed the state.

Alli said, “The Federal Government   owes this state N40bn on road projects done on its behalf.

“Government is a continuum and if past administrations acted on behalf of the Federal Government, subsequent governments should follow up and no matter who takes over at the top should respect the effort of the states and make a refund.

“The funds were sourced from various places and they came at various costs. The development is not only for the state but for the nation’s development.”

The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said the Federal Government was owing the state about N18bn.

Ahmed, in a response by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication,   Muyideen Akorede, told one of our correspondents in Ilorin that the Federal Government had yet to pay the state N10bn outstanding from Kosubosu Chikanda Road.

He said other roads were the Pategi Kpada Road, the Phase 3 of Kosubosu-Chickanda Road and federal roads within Ilorin metropolis.

Ahmed also said the state government was presently   spending N8bn on Kishi-Kaiama Road, a Federal Government road.

The Abia State Government also said it was   being owed over N10bn by the Federal Government on some roads it rehabilitated.

The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Ugochukwu Emezue, said in Umuahia that the state spent the sum on the rehabilitation and dualisation of Ossah Road in Umuahia.

He said that the government had yet to be reimbursed by the Federal Government many years after undertaking the project.

Emezue noted that there were other federal roads rehabilitated   in other parts of the state, especially in Aba.

Another source said the Aba-Owerri Road was also rehabilitated by the state government at the cost of N1bn.

When contacted, the immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Philip Ntoo, and his Works counterpart,   Longman Nwachukwu, said they could not give the total indebtedness of the Federal Government to the state as they were no longer in office.

They referred our correspondent to the Accountant General of the state,   Gabriel Onyendilefu. But efforts to reach him proved abortive as he did not pick calls made to his telephone line.

The Federal Government is owing Cross River State about N12bn, arising mainly from resurfacing of failed federal roads in the state.

A member representing the Bekwerra-Obudu-Obanliku in the House of Representatives,   Legor Idagbo, had during his tenure as the state commissioner for works, disclosed that the Federal Government had yet to pay back the money used in reconstructing its deplorable   roads in the state.

Our correspondent learnt that the bulk of the money owed by the Federal Government was on road reconstruction and maintenance.

But there had been a controversy over the said amount as the Federal Ministry of Works had shortly after that disclosure in July 2014, said it was far from their assessment.

The Plateau State government said that the Federal Government was owing it N14bn.

The Director of Press Affairs, Emmanuel Nanle,   said that the amount was contained in a handover note from former Governor Jonah Jang.

He said that the money was spent on the reconstruction of federal roads in the state.

The Ondo State Commissioner for Information,   Kayode Akinmade, said the Federal Government’s indebtedness to the state was N11.8bn. The amount, he added, represented unpaid money the state spent on federal roads in the state.

The Bayelsa State Government said it was being owed N8.7bn.

Its Commissioner for Information and Strategy,   Esueme Dan-Kikile, made this known through a text message to one of our correspondents.

The commissioner wrote, “As confirmed by the state’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure,   Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, the Federal Government is owing N4.6bn for the construction of Mbiama-Yenagoa Road.

“Also, the Federal Government is owing N4.1bn for the construction of Ekole (Goodluck Jonathan) bridge.”


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