Paris Club Refund: Noise From Governors Is Unjustified – Malami

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
File photo: Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.

 

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice,  Abubakar Malami, on Thursday, said that state governors have no basis for complaining about Paris Club refund deductions paid to consultants they hired.

He made the comment at a ministerial media briefing at the State House in Abuja.

Malami also explained that the governors took steps to pay the consultants and later decided to stop payment while asking for an out-of-court settlement when the matter was dragged to court.

READ ALSO: 2023 Elections: Wrong Choice Will Consume Nigeria, Says Obasanjo

This, according to him, resulted in a request to President Muhammadu Buhari to make the payment, which was then passed on to the Office of the AGF for a legal opinion.

“The Governor’s forum comprising of all the governors sat down commonly agreed on the engagement of a consultant to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club. So, it was the governor’s forum under the federal government in the first place that engaged the consultant,” he said.

“When eventually, successes were recorded associated with the refund, associated with Paris Club, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the federal government for the fund.

“And among the components of the claim presented for the consideration of the federal government was a component related to the payment of these consultants that are now constituting the subject of contention. So the implication of that is that the governors in their own right recognized the consultant, recognized their claim and presented a such claim to the federal government.

“When the claims were eventually processed and paid to the governor’s forum. They indeed on their own, without the intervention of the federal government took steps to make part payments to the consultants, acknowledging their liability over the same.

“When eventually they made such payments at a point they took a decision to stop the payment. The consultants instituted an action in court against the governors’ forum. And what happened in court? They submitted to consent judgment.

“They asked and urged the Court to allow them to settle out of court. The court granted them an opportunity to settle. They commit terms of settlement in writing, they signed  the terms of the settlement, agreeing and conceding that such payments be made to the consultant.”

Reeling other achievements, the Minister also disclosed that the ministry has secured over 1,000 convictions on terrorism, and recovered over 6,324,627.66 pounds of stolen monies from various jurisdictions globally from March 2021 to May 2022.

According to him, the recovered foreign loots have since been deployed towards the execution of major infrastructure projects and used to massively reduce poverty across the country.

 

Osun Election: State Governors Congratulate Adeleke, Welcome Him To NGF

Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beat 14 other contenders to win the Osun State governorship election.

 

Governors of the 36 states of the Federation have congratulated the Governor-elect of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, on his recent victory at the poll.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, in a letter dated July 18, declared the support of the governors for the incoming member of the forum.

According to him, the NGF looks forward to working with Adeleke and is committed to providing him with outstanding services, in line with global best practices.

The governors wished the governor-elect God’s guidance, strength, direction, and wisdom to deliver on his mandate to the people of Osun State.

Read the full text of the letter below:

18th July 2022

Senator Ademola Adeleke,

Governor-elect, c\o Adeleke Estate, Ede,

Osun State.  Dear Governor-elect,

Congratulations,

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) wishes to congratulate the Osun State Governor-elect, His Excellency, Senator Ademola Adeleke, on your victory at the just concluded election.

The NGF is a non-partisan platform of all 36 democratically elected State Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria irrespective of political affiliations.

At the Forum, all governors are served equally and respectfully. The NGF wishes you success as you take up the challenges that await you in your exalted office.

The Forum Secretariat assures Your Excellency of its full support as you embark on this new journey towards elevating your state to a higher level.

We look forward to working with you and assure you of our commitment to provide outstanding services in line with global best practices and hope that you will in turn trust the Forum’s machinery to at all times provide you professional technical and administrative support.

We wish you God’s guidance, strength, direction and the wisdom to deliver on your mandate to your people.  Your Excellency, once again, congratulations and welcome to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

Governor Kayode Fayemi Governor of Ekiti State,

&; Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

Owo Attack: South-West Governors Meet, Declare Three-Day Mourning

Scene of the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo where scores of worshippers were killed in Ondo State on June 5, 2022.

 

Following the deadly attack on St Francis Catholic Church Owo, South-West governors have convened a meeting, condemning the incident.

Gunmen had stormed the church on June 5, killing over 40 people while injuring several others. The attack has since been condemned by most Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari and other state governors who asked security operatives to unmask the killers.

In a statement obtained by Channels Television on Sunday, the regional governors declared a three-day mourning.

They also condemned in strong terms what they described as a terrorist attack, vowing to protect the people under their domain.

The recent attack, they said, “compels immediate intervention in the whole of the South West to nip the insidious phenomenon of insurgency in the bud.”

READ ALSO: Nigerians Must Trust The Military For Insecurity To End – CDS Irabor

“The Governors condemn, in very strong terms, the horrendous crime perpetrated by Terrorist against the people and residents of Owo, Ondo State, and, by extension, the peace-loving people of the South West. The Governors sympathise with the victims of the mindless attack in Owo,” the statement partly read.

“The Governors agreed to declare a 3-day mourning period in memory of the victims of the 5th June, 2022 terror attack on St Francis Catholic, Owaluwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, starting from Monday, 13th June, to Wednesday, 15th, June, 2022 to symbolise our collective loss across all South Western States in Nigeria.

“The meeting agreed that all the Governors should direct the flying of Flags at Half Mast in all public buildings, facilitates and official residences across all the States in the South West in honour of the victims of the Owo terror attack.

“The Governors noted, with great discomfiture, the increasing agitations about spaces taken over by unidentified and unknown migrants in all South West States. The meeting, therefore, recommends an increase in the scope of surveillance of the activities of these undocumented settlers by relevant security agencies in all the States.

“The Governors, as Chief Security Officers, resolved to continue to assist the security agencies in the areas of crisis management and intelligence gathering at ALL times.

“The Governors reviewed reports from various States on the factors militating against peace and security in the region.  They expressed grave concern on the influx of Okada riders into all parts of the South West, especially the State capitals. The meeting further resolved that efforts be geared toward identity management of Okada riders and stringent regulation put in place for their operation.

“Consequently, the Forum decided it was time to reconvene the South West Security Committee to look critically into this creeping menace before it blossoms into another intractable social problem. The Committee will be expected to submit its findings on the desirability of Okada operations in the region. It is also expected to submit a multi-level template to combat the threat of insurgency and terrorism in the region.

“The Forum agreed to convene forthwith a physical meeting of the South West Governors to deliberate on the security challenges confronting the region.”

Buhari Hosts APC Stakeholders Ahead Of Special Convention

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari used to illustrate the story.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is hosting stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to a dinner at the State House, hours before the commencement of the party’s special convention.

The event is being attended by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the leadership of the National Assembly including the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila as well as other prominent members of the party.

It is said to be a follow-up to the meeting he had with the national leadership and presidential aspirants of the party on Saturday night.

The President is expected to use the occasion to underscore his desire to achieve a consensus candidate for the party’s presidential ticket before the convention.

Meanwhile, members of the central working committee of the APC are meeting at the Imo state governor’s lodge in Abuja.

The meeting is for the committee to conclude arrangements for the party’s presidential primaries.

Some governors, federal lawmakers, and other party members are attending the meeting.

2023: Tinubu, Osinbajo, Other South-West APC Presidential Aspirants Meet

Photo: [email protected]_JAGs

 

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, presidential aspirants from the South-West and key stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have met in Abuja.

A source who pleaded anonymity confirmed the meeting the Channels Television via the telephone on Sunday.

He said the meeting which held on Saturday night entered the early hours of Sunday morning.

Although the details of the meeting could not be gotten as of the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the aspirants discussed how the region could field a candidate that will serve as a common front for the party.

Those who attended the meeting include the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun.

READ ALSO: Northern Governors Ask APC To Zone Presidential Ticket To South

Others are the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; and Lagos cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare.

The rest are governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).

The meeting is coming hours after APC governors from the northern region asked the party to zone its presidential ticket to the south.

In a statement signed by 11 governors, they said it was a question of honour for the APC.

The governors asked all Northern aspirants in the race to withdraw in the national interest.

“This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate,” the governors said.

Buhari Reveals Criteria For APC Presidential Candidate

President Muhammadu Buhari meets with APC governors in Abuja on May 31, 2022. Credit: State House

 

Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday disclosed his criteria for the ideal presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2023 elections.

The President made the disclosure while meeting with APC Governors in Abuja.

“Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections,” President Buhari said, as quoted in a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina.

READ ALSO: APC Presidential Panel Screens Osinbajo, Akpabio, Bankole, Others Expected

The APC commenced the screening of its presidential candidates on Monday.

It is expected to hold a convention between June 6 and 8 where the candidate is to emerge from about 23 aspirants.

‘Positive Qualities’

During Tuesday’s meeting with the Governors, the President charged them to ensure that the party picks a presidential candidate that reflects the APC’s values and virtues.

“The processes for the 2023 General Elections have commenced in earnest and I note that the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes,” he said.

“Our party, the APC, shall not be any different, more so as we are still implementing the blueprint for a more prosperous nation.

“As I begin the final year of my second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and leader of the party, I recognize the compelling need for me to provide stronger leadership to the party under this transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.

“Such leadership is required so that the party remains strong and united. It is also needed to improve our electoral fortunes by ensuring that it retains power at the center, hold the great majority in various legislative chambers and also gain additional number of states.

“In a few days, the party will be holding its Convention during which primaries would take place to pick the Presidential Flag Bearer for the 2023 General Elections. This is a very significant process and its outcome should prove to the world, the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership.”

The President also appealed to all the Governors “to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community”

He assured that the consultation process will continue, to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention, stressing that it would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors are effectively brought under control, “and that our party emerges stronger.”

Speaking on behalf of the States’ helmsmen, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum said the party must build on successes of its recent elective convention, and the primaries conducted so far, “ and come up with a candidate who will walk in the footsteps of patriotism and love for the country, which Mr President has shown.”

“We will support Mr President to have a very successful convention,” he said.

Governors Seek Prayer For Security, Unity At Eid-El-Fitr

A crowd of Muslim faithful is seen at an Eid-el-Fitr praying ground along the Airport Road in Abuja on May 2, 2022.

 

Governors across the country have congratulated the people in their respective states, especially the Muslims on the occasion of the Eid-El-Fitr which signals the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

As Muslim faithful in Nigeria join their counterparts around the world in celebration, this year’s Eid-El-Fitr coincides with the commemoration of the annual international Workers’ Day.

The people of were among the first to be greeted by their governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who congratulated them on the successful completion of the fast.

“May Almighty Allah make Eid a great occasion for interaction, harmony, tolerance, and happiness for all,” he was quoted in a statement by his press secretary, Humwashi Wonosikou.

Governor Fintiri who described peace as an essential ingredient to the development of any country, urged the people to keep praying and working for the peace and unity of the country and Adamawa State.

Glad that the people would be celebrating without the restrictions of COVID-19 this year, he admonished Nigerians to focus on the things that bind them together and eschew issues capable of dividing the country, especially going into a political year.

The governor also challenged Nigerians to see the nation’s diversity beyond artificial divisions such as ethnic and religious differences and abide strictly by the teachings of the Holy Quaran as propagated by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.

“Sacrifices you have all made during the holy month of Ramadan should draw everyone closer to the Almighty Allah,” he said.

“I enjoin all our Muslim brothers and sisters to draw enduring lessons from the holy month of Ramadan, which include personal sacrifices and self-denial. I call on you to emulate the good virtues and teachings of Prophet Mohammed.”

A photo taken on May 2, 2022, shows Muslim faithful participating in the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Airport Road praying ground in Abuja.

 

According to Governor Fintiri, Adamawa is known for peace and it is important for citizens and residents of the state to ensure the hard-earned peace is sustained.

“On behalf of my family, the good people and government of Adamawa State, I heartily felicitate and rejoice with all the citizens and residents of our dear state as we celebrate Eid El-Fitr,” he said.

 

Peaceful Nigeria

In Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade congratulated the Muslim community for fasting successfully through the 30-day Ramadan period and urged them to imbibe the teachings of Prophet Muhammed on the essence of the religious obligation.

“This is the time, more than ever before, to connect to the virtue of love, compassion, unity and generosity which Prophet Muhammed symbolises and which the holy month of Ramadan taught us,” he said in a statement by his media aide, Christian Ita.

The governor appealed to the Muslim Ummah, particularly in Cross River State to shun divisive tendencies capable of drawing back the country’s wheel of progress and development.

He also urged Muslims in the state to be law-abiding and continue to pray for a peaceful Nigeria, especially as the country prepares for elections “because with prayers and supplications to God every problem is surmountable”.

This photo taken on May 2, 2022, shows Muslim girls at an Eid-el-Fitr praying ground along the Airport Road in Abuja.

 

“I call on you, dear Muslim brothers and sisters who have been part of us in the state and  government to at all times adhere to the essence of Ramadan and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed by showing tolerance, generosity, love and unity as well as by embracing mutual co-existence among the diverse ethnic nationalities in the country, especially in our dear state, Cross River,” Governor Ayade said.

“Divided, we achieve nothing but united, we achieve all, even beyond our expectations. Let us, therefore, be closely knitted in brotherhood and in love to advance the cause of unity and progress in our country, especially as another political transition draws near.”

While wishing Muslims a wonderful and peaceful Eid-El-Fitri celebration, he enjoined them “not to stop the act of spiritual rejuvenation as recorded during the holy month of Ramadan.”

 

Freedom Of Worship

In neighbouring Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike congratulated the Muslim faithful for the successful fasting period and its attendant benefits of purification.

He called on all Nigerians to draw the lessons of piety, love, justice, fairness, equity, peaceful co-existence with others, tolerance, honesty and dedication derived from the teachings of the Holy Prophet all through the Ramadan period.

The governor, in a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, assured the people of Rivers that his administration would continue to promote religious tolerance and the right environment for the freedom of worship.

Muslim faithful attend the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Airport Road praying ground in Abuja on May 2, 2022.

 

Vigilant And Steadfast

For Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, the discipline and sacrifice Muslim faithful exhibited throughout the holy month of Ramadan deserve commendation.

He prayed Allah to accept their ibadah and assured residents of Taraba that their welfare would remain the priority of his administration.

The governor added that all would be done to create and sustain the desired ambience of peace for them to pursue their legitimate activities.

He, however, condemned the recent bomb explosions in the state and expressed sympathy with those who lost their relations and those who sustained injuries.

Governor Ishaku urged the people to be vigilant and remain steadfast in their prayers for Allah to expose and punish those behind this evil against innocent people.

He solicited the support and full participation of the people in the political transition process that has already begun in the state and the country at large to ensure the election of the right calibre of leaders for the state and the country.

A photo taken on May 2, 2022, shows Muslim faithful gathered for the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at a praying ground along the Airport Road in Abuja.

 

Nigeria’s Progress

Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has called on Muslims, and indeed all Nigerians, to continue to pray fervently to God for the peace, security, unity and progress of the country.

He congratulated Muslims as they celebrate Eid-el-Fitr and wished them the blessings and guidance of Allah as he urged Nigerians to embrace peace, love, tolerance and sacrifice which were the exemplary virtues of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.

The governor, therefore, prayed for a peaceful and pleasant celebration, stressing that the significance of the Islamic event towards the enhancement of peace, security, unity and progress of the nation was enduring.

 

Successful Election

In Yobe, Governor Mai Mala Buni also felicitated with the good people of the state, saying the Ramadan fasting had in the last one month inculcated the virtues of patience, devotion, self-control, humility, kindness, forgiveness, altruism, and other virtues of Islam that should be extended beyond the month of Ramadhan for a just and peaceful society.

He reminded the people on Zakatul Fitr or giving out measures of foodstuff to the needy at the end of the fasting period, to give them a sense of belonging during the festive period.

Governor Buni prayed to Almighty Allah to accept the acts of ibadah worship and supplications made for the full return of peace and prosperity in Yobe State and Nigeria.

He admonished the people to continue supporting government policies and programmes with an assurance that his administration would provide more infrastructural development to improve the lives of the people.

A girl poses with a tesbih at the end of the Eid-el-Fitr prayer held at a praying ground along the Airport Road in Abuja on May 2, 2022.

 

The governor charged the people to be conscious and vigilant on strange movements and objects, and to report such in their vicinity to security agents.

He also urged them to remain peaceful and law-abiding as the 2023 elections set in, saying, peace is a necessary tool for successful election and development.

Accordingly, the governor called on the people to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to fully participate in the 2023 general elections.

“All political parties are enjoined to promote peaceful electioneering, devoid of rancour to promote the spirit of sportsmanship in politics and to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy,” he said.

“I also wish to commend the Nigerian Armed Forces, other security operatives and the vigilante groups for their patriotism and gallantry in the fight against insurgency and other crimes.”

 

A Great Nation

Just like his colleagues, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, has congratulated the Muslim Ummah for witnessing this year’s Eid-el-Fitri festival.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, he described Ramadan as an important pillar of Islam, saying it was fulfilling for the Muslim faithful to participate in the exercise and see its end.

A Muslim faithful holds a tesbih at the Eid-el-Fitr praying ground located along the Airport Road in Abuja on May 2, 2022.

 

Governor Fayemi believes Eid-el-Fitri is the crowning of the blessings received during the Holy month which draw the faithful closer to the Almighty Allah.

He said the lessons taught by Ramadan and learnt during the Holy month by the faithful would continue to shape their daily lives for a better relationship with their Creator and fellow human beings.

The governor called on the Muslim faithful not to relent in their supplications to the Almighty Allah for Nigeria to overcome its challenges and fulfill its potentials as a great nation.

He also urged the Muslim Ummah to pray for peace, harmony and tranquillity in the ‘Land of Honour’ before, during and after the June 18 governorship election, stressing that God answers the prayers of the faithful.

$418m Paris Club Loan Refund: States Warn FG Not To Tamper With Funds

 

The 36 states of the federation have warned the Federal Government not to tamper with funds accruing to them and the 774 local government councils under the guise of satisfying an alleged $418 million London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts.

In documents seen on Monday by Channels Television, the states said they were not parties to any suit on the London/Paris Club refund, and as such were not liable to any person or entity in any judgment debt being relied on by the Federal Government.

Speaking through the Body of Attorneys-General of the Federation, the states warned further that should the Federal Government proceed to make any such deduction, it would be acting illegally and in contempt of their appeal challenging the judgment.

They gave the warning in an April 4 letter as part of their response to a November 11, 2021 letter from the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, advertising the commencement of the deduction for the liquidation of the alleged judgment debts.

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt Shuts Chrisland Schools Over Alleged Abuse

The reply of the states was signed by the Body of Attorneys-General of the Federation Interim Chairman, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) of Lagos State and Interim Secretary, Dr. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana of Nasarawa State as well as the Attorneys-Generals of Rivers, Abia, Taraba, Benue, and Zamfara states, for and on behalf of all the state Attorneys-General.

It reads in part: “Their Excellencies have drawn our attention to your letter referenced above, which the various states of the federation received at about the end of March 2022. The letter notifies the States of your intention to commence deduction from allocations due to the States from the Federation Account for the liquidation of the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts on behalf of the 36 States of the Federation and the 774 local government councils.

“Please note that the states of the federation were not parties to any contract or suits concerning the London/Paris Club refund, from which the said judgment debts arose.

“Consequently, the 36 States of the federation are not liable to any person or entity in any judgment debt.”

The letter noted that the deduction of the allocations due to the 36 states of the federation from the Federation Account to liquidate the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts is the subject of an appeal filed by the 36 States at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

It explained that: “The appeal challenges the Federal High Court’s (per Honourable Justice Inyang Ekwo) judgment delivered on 25th March 2022 between A.G Abia State v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria & 42 Ors. and, therefore, the issue is sub judice.”

In addition, it noted that the states have also filed a Motion on Notice for an Order of Injunction pending appeal.

The letter added that the body’s legal representatives had published a public caveat in national dailies notifying the public of the pending appeal, which also advised concerned parties “to desist from dealing with the subject matter thereof pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal and the application for Injunction pending appeal”.

It said that given the above, “The law requires you to restrain from taking any step whatsoever that is capable of interfering with the rest of the suit, which is now a subject of an appeal.

“Accordingly, Nigerian case law enjoins you to refrain from effecting any deduction whatsoever from the allocations due to the 36 States from the Federation Account for the liquidation of the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts purportedly on behalf of the 36 States of the Federation and the 774 local government councils, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal by the states of the federation. Doing otherwise in the face of the pending Appeal and Motion on Notice for Injunction pending appeal shall be at your peril.”

See the document below:

APC Governors Have Agreed On Simple, Equitable Zoning Formula – El-Rufai

 

Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have agreed on a simple and equitable zoning formula for all geopolitical zones.

The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, said this on Tuesday after the governors met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, and in reaction to criticisms that the party was divided.

“There’s no way you can have 22 Governor agreeing on every issue. You can have differences, but to call it division is taking it too far.

Read Also: APC Governors ‘In Support Of’ New National Convention Date

“But after our meeting last night and our briefing with PMB today, we are all on the same page. We have agreed on a simple, equitable and fair zoning formula for all geopolitical zones. By God’s grace by March 26 we will hold the APC national convention.

“Let there be no doubt that the Progressive Governors are United in our resolve to ensure that the Peoples Destruction Party doesn’t come back to power,” El-Rufai said.

The APC had on Monday postponed its National Convention to March 26.

Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, revealed this after the meeting with President Buhari.

The convention was earlier billed for February 26.

However, after the meeting, the governors said they were in support of the party’s new date for its national convention.

N51bn UBEC Funds: SERAP Asks Governors To Pay Counterpart Funds

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the 36 state governors to immediately redirect public funds budgeted to pay ex-governors ‘undeserved pensions and other retirement benefits’, and ‘security votes’, to pay the counterpart funds that would allow poor children to enjoy access to quality basic education.

In a letter dated February 19 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Several of the 36 states have reportedly failed to pay the counterpart funds to access over N51bn matching grants earmarked by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for basic education in the country, as at July 2019.”

According to SERAP, the report by UBEC that several states have failed to access N51.6bn of matching grants suggests that these states are doing very little for poor children. It said it also explains why the number of out-of-school children in the country has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.

The organisation, therefore, noted that if positive actions are not taken within 14 days of its publication, it would take legal actions agai9nst the governors.

The letter, sent to each of the 36 governors, read: “A violation of the right to education will occur when there is insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public resources, which results in the non-enjoyment of the right to quality education by poor children within the states.

“States’ dereliction in paying counterpart funds is antithetical to the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, and the country’s international human rights obligations.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your state to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The enjoyment of the right to education for millions of poor children remains a distant goal. In several states, this goal is becoming increasingly remote. The persistent failure to pay counterpart funds has hugely contributed to denying poor Nigerian children access to quality basic education, opportunities and development.

“State governors are clearly in a position to invest more toward the progressive realization of the right to quality education for poor children within their states.

“Rather than spending public funds to pay ex-governors undeserved pensions and other retirement benefits and apparently using security votes for patronage and political purposes, governors should prioritise investment in education by immediately paying up any outstanding counterpart funds to UBEC.

“Redirecting public funds budgeted for life pensions and security votes, and cutting the cost of governance to pay the counterpart funds would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote efficient, honest, and legal spending of public money.

“Continuing to spend scarce public funds on these expenses would deny poor Nigerian children access to quality, compulsory and free basic education in your state, and burden the next generation.

“Redirecting the funds as recommended would also ensure access to quality education for poor children, who have no opportunity to attend private schools. It would contribute to addressing poverty, inequality, marginalization, and insecurity across several states.

“SERAP is separately seeking information from UBEC about the details of counterpart funds that have been between 2019 and 2022. In the meantime, SERAP urges you to clarify if your state has paid any counterpart fund between July 2019 and 2022.

“SERAP urges you to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of any accessed matching grants from UBEC.

“States should prioritise paying their counterpart funds over and above spending on life pensions and other misallocations of scarce resources.

“Immediately paying your counterpart funds for basic education in your state would be a major step forward for children’s rights, and show your commitment to ensure the rights and well-being of all children, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.

“According to the Universal Basic Education Commission, Kwara state has failed and/or refused to pay the counterpart funds that would allow the state to access the matching grant of N6,245,355,130.05.

“This is the cumulative amount that Kwara state has failed to access as at July 2019. Notably, Kwara has failed to access the following matching grants: N952,297,297.30 for 2011-2012; N1,918,783,783.78 for 2015-2016; N1,286,343,183.55 for 2017; N1,473,832,845.21 for 2018, and N614,097,018.83 for 2019.

“According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 1 in 3 children do not complete primary school in several states. 27.2 percent of children between 6 and 11 years do not attend school. Only 35.6% of children aged 3–5 months attend pre-school.

“As revealed by a 2018 report by Transparency International (TI), most of the funds appropriated as security votes are spent on political activities, mismanaged or simply stolen.

“It is estimated that security votes add up to over N241.2 billion every year. On top of appropriated security votes, state governments also receive millions of dollars yearly as international security assistance.

“According to the UBEC, Abia state has failed and/or refused to pay the counterpart funds that would allow the state to access the matching grant of N2,988,805,613.14.

“This is the cumulative amount that Abia state has failed to access as at July 2019. Notably, Abia has failed to access the following matching grants: N26,430,893.96 for 2011-2012; N874,444,853.76 for 2017; N1,473,832,845.21 for 2018, and N614,097,018.83 for 2019.

“According to our information, basic education in several states has continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of education offered is low and standards have continued to drop.

“The learning environment does not promote effective learning. School facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many teachers profoundly demoralized.

“This situation is patently contrary to Section 18 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended]; and the Sections 2(1) and 11(2) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act.

“Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realizing other human rights. As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.

“States are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of resources available. Gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education can constitute a human rights violation.”

Governors Pledge To Increase Nigeria’s Aggregate Tax Revenue By 200%

The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Mr Kayode Fayemi

 

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by Governor Kayode Fayemi, has pledged to expand the country’s aggregate tax revenue by up to 200%.

The governors said this during their second meeting of the year which held on Wednesday in Abuja while deliberating on several matters of national importance.

They said members received a presentation from the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Service (FIRS) and Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), Mr. Muhammad M. Nami, on the national Data for Tax Initiative.

According to the governors, the Data for Tax (D4T) initiative envisages an ecosystem where financial and non-financial data on all individuals and economic transactions will be collated into a central National Tax Data Bank with the National Identification Number (NIN) as the primary unifying code.

“Members pledged their support for the project which is aimed at expanding the country’s tax net to at least 90% of all eligible taxable persons and committed to collaborating with the JTB to increase the country’s aggregate tax revenue by up to 200% as envisaged,” a communique released at the end of the meeting read in part.

They also deliberated on the establishment of farm settlement estates for groups of smallholder producers to increase the supply of farm inputs as well as access to produce at the markets.

See the full communique below.

Communiqué Issued At The End Of The 2nd Meeting Of The Nigeria Governors’ Forum Held

We, the members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at our second meeting of the year 2022, deliberated on several matters of national importance and concluded as follows:

1. Members received a presentation from the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Service (FIRS) and Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), Mr. Muhammad M. Nami, on the national Data for Tax Initiative.

The Data for Tax (D4T) initiative envisages an ecosystem where financial and non-financial data on all individuals and economic transactions will be collated into a central National Tax Data Bank with the National Identification Number (NIN) as the primary unifying code. Members pledged their support for the project which is aimed at expanding the country’s tax net to at least 90% of all eligible taxable persons and committed to collaborating with the JTB to increase the country’s aggregate tax revenue by up to 200% as envisaged.

2. The National Convenor of the UN Food Systems and Permanent Secretary of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, delivered a presentation on the National Pathway to Food Systems Transformation.

The role of Governors in the plan is to prioritize the establishment of farm settlement estates for groups of smallholder producers, including women and youths, to increase the supply of farm inputs, the use of machinery, access to extension services, and market access.

The Forum affirmed its commitment to the ideals of the programme which many states are already pursuing and committed to working with the Federal Government to expand the development of these settlements across the country.

3. Mr Alex Okoh, Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), briefed the State governors on the proposed sale of five (5) power plants under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC). The presentation was part of the consultative process with State governments who are shareholders of the plants.

4. The Forum also received a presentation on the status of the country’s digital identification programme from Engr. Aliyu A. Aziz, Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

To strengthen the national enrolment exercise which has so far seen the issuance of over 74 million national identification numbers (NIN) to Nigerians across the country, Governors pledged to support the programme through a string of measures, including support for sensitization activities, integration of NIN in state services and collaboration with telecoms providers to improve network infrastructure for sustained identity registration and authentication. Governors re-echoed the need to complete the harmonization and integration of databases, to reduce the carriage of multiple identifications (IDs) by citizens noting that being able to uniquely identify persons is extremely important for social security and cross-state border management. NIMC is to liaise with State Governments through its various State Coordinators in addition to working with the NGF Secretariat.

5. A programme update on NG-CARES was delivered by the NGF Secretariat’s Programme Manager, Mrs. Firo Elhassan Kaka, on the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) programme. All 36 States of the federation have already received letters of eligibility for the programme, and all results achieved by the States with effect from June 2020 are eligible for verification as prior results. These will be assessed for re- imbursement at the next verification exercise.

6. The NGF Secretariat’s Health Adviser, Dr. Ahmad Abdulwahab also delivered an update on the country’s health security interventions, particularly on the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP) and the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHPF). Members also discussed the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lassa fever outbreak, the need to improve the quality of Polio campaigns, as well as the setup of State Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance Services (SEMSA) with accredited health facilities and requisite personnel.

7. From the 23rd – 25th February 2022, State governors will be joined by a delegation from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, with the aim of deepening the government’s engagement on routine immunization, health system strengthening and COVID19 vaccination in the country.

8. Finally, the Forum congratulated the outgoing Governor of Anambra State Mr. Willie Obiano who joined the NGF meeting for the last time before he hands over to his successor Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo on 17th March 2022. Governor Obiano was applauded by his colleagues for his impressive performance in Anambra State and his contributions to the growth of the Nigeria Governorsa’ Forum, and particularly for significantly enhancing governance outcomes for the people of Anambra State and for overseeing a smooth transition to the incoming governor.

Buhari Unwilling To Sign Electoral Bill, Says PDP Governors

File photo of PDP governors

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari is unwilling to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Following the refusal of the president to sign the document over the mode of primaries, the National Assembly had on January 31 transmitted the reworked bill to the president for assent.

The presidency had on February 10 said President Buhari is desirous to assent to the bill and is still consulting with critical stakeholders on whether to sign the electoral act amendment bill or not.

Buh the PDP governors in a communique issued after their meeting which was held in Bayelsa State asked Buhari to sign the document.

READ ALSO: NASS Passes Harmonised Electoral Bill With Direct, Indirect, Consensus Modes Of Primaries

“The PDP Governors urged Mr President to immediately sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law,” the communique signed by the 11 governors read.

“Waiting to run out the 30 days is yet another sign of unwillingness by Mr President to give Nigeria a reformed Electoral framework. If there are still misgivings on any aspect of the Bill Amendments may be introduced at a later stage.”

They also reacted to the just concluded polls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), congratulating their party for the victory recorded in 43 out of 62 Councillorship positions in Abuja.

In spite of improvements in the conduct of elections, the governors noted that Gwagwalada and Abuja Area Council results show that manipulations are still possible.

They, therefore, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tighten all observed loopholes and further improve on the functioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) machine for future elections.

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE PDP GOVERNORS’ FORUM AT THE END OF THEIR MEETING IN YENAGOA   BAYELSA STATE

The PDP Governors’ Forum held its regular meeting on Monday, 14th February 2022, at the Bayelsa State Government House, Yenagoa.  The meeting reviewed once again the state of the nation, the readiness of the PDP to rescue the nation from APC misrule and issued the following Communique:

  1. The PDP Governors urged Mr. President to immediately sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law. Waiting to run out the 30 days is yet another sign of unwillingness by Mr. President to give Nigeria a reformed Electoral framework. If there are still misgivings on any aspect of the Bill Amendments may be introduced at a later stage.
  2. The Governors congratulated PDP for winning 43 out of 62 Councillorship positions in the Abuja Area Council election results, just concluded. Inspite of improvements in the conduct of elections, the Gwagwalada and Abuja Area Council results show that manipulations are still possible. They urged INEC to tighten all observed loopholes and further improve the functioning of the BIVAS Machine for future elections.
  3. The Governors expressed their displeasure on the issue of contaminated Fuel supplied to Nigerians and urged the government to bring perpetrators to account.
  4. The Governors frowned at the duplicity, inconsistency, insincerity of the APC-led Federal Government on the fuel subsidy regime, which has been badly and corruptly administered. The figures of consumption and ascribed to Nigerians appear fictitious and bloated. They called for a proper investigation to be conducted on this matter.
  5. The Forum welcomed the Court decision on Police Trust Fund deductions from the Federation Account, a suit at the instance of Rivers State and urged the Federal Government to stop similar unconstitutional deductions from the Federation Account.

In the same vein, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission should expedite action on the new Revenue Allocation formula in such a way as to increase allocation to States and Local Government.

  1. The Forum once again deplored the way and manner the CBN is being run as an alternate government, indeed, a government within a Government. It is time to streamline its functions and processes to be constitutionally compliant.
  2. The Forum once again decried the opaque nature of NNPC operations. They called for accountability and reconciliation of NNPC remittances into the federation account.
  3. As the National Assembly winds down this current phase of the Constitution Review exercise, the Forum urged that they revisit the issue of devolution of more powers to the States and Local Governments.

This opportunity to rejig the framework for policing and securing Nigeria should not be missed. To this end, the Forum would set up a Panel of Consultants to have a thorough look at the security architecture of Nigeria and make recommendations.

The Governors also urged the National Assembly to transfer some items from the Exclusive Legislative List to Concurrent List.

  1. The PDP Governors congratulated His Excellency, Governor Douye Diri on his second anniversary in office as he has made a positive difference for the people of Bayelsa State. They thanked him for being such a gracious and wonderful host.

In attendance are:

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu                                                      – Abia State         – Vice-Chairman

Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri                         -Adamawa State              -Member

Gov. Udom Emmanuel                                  – Akwa Ibom State – Member

Gov. Bala Mohammed                                   -Bauchi State     – Member

Gov. Sen. Douye Diri                                      – Bayelsa State – Member

Gov. Samuel Ortom                                                        -Benue State     -Member

Gov. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa                                                 – Delta State       – Member

Gov. Godwin Obaseki                                    – Edo State          -Member

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi                                  – Enugu State     – Member

Gov. Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde      – Oyo State         – Member

Gov. Nyesom Wike, CON                                             – Rivers State     – Member