Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday in Abuja held a meeting with a committee set up by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to explore options to help state governors to address the challenges posed by a shortfall of about N250 billion in their monthly allocations.
A source closed to the meeting told THISDAY that the states were finding it difficulties to meet up with their responsibilities to their people.
The source said governors were being accused of diverting funds meant for the development of their states but said the true position, ‘is that the governors are not getting the required allocations they needed to develop their states.
Following an extra ordinary meeting of the NGF last Friday, a committee was set up to meet with the presidency to find a lasting solution to the problem of shortfalls in allocation.
The three-man committee comprises
Governors of Akwa Ibom, Bauchi and Osun States, Udom Emmanuel, Muhammad Abubakar and Rauf Aregbesola, respectively.
Yesterday, only the Akwa Ibom and Bauchi State governors made it to the meeting while Osun State governor was said to be out of the country. He was represented by the Chairman and Director General of the forum.
The federal government had deducted N32 billion from the allocations of states from the Federation Account in the month of April 2016 to offset the states’ indebtedness.
Osun State was said to be worst hit according to Economic Confidential, an economic intelligence magazine, with its allocation of N2.030 billion wiped off by the deduction of N2.391 billion, leaving a deficit of N361 million to be paid in subsequent months by the state.
Bayelsa was next with N3.207 billion deducted from its N4.812 billion, Cross River State with a total deduction of N1.405 billion; Ogun State, N1.185 billion; Plateau State, N1.248 billion and Ekiti State with N1.067 billion.
The sum of about N3.078 billion of the total amount was deducted for bail-out funds granted the states by the federal government.
At least eight states had no deductions on bail-out funds for the month of April 2016. The states are Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Jigawa, Kogi, Lagos, Rivers, Yobe and the Federal Capital Territory did not collect the bail-out funds from the federal government or appropriate time for the deduction has not fallen due and are yet to commence.
When State House correspondents corned the governors after the meeting with the vice president, the governors refused to give details of the meeting.
When pressed further, Akwa Ibom State governor said: ”We were mandated by the governors forum to come and discuss some certain issues with the vice president and that’s why you saw two of us here, we were supposed to be three but the third governor could not make it. So that is why we came to discuss some issues with the vice president and it has been a very good meeting and we tackled some issues.
“Everything we do, I keep reassuring Nigerians, we want to be together in Nigeria, so whatever we discussed it is in the interest of our citizens and we make sure we put our heads together to solve our challenges as a developing nation.
“Let me assure Nigerians that there is no developing country that doesn’t go through what we go through and how do we make effort to face the challenges, that’s why you see us putting heads together, trying to appraise and try to find a solution that will be enduring.”
He said his state would be 29 year old on Friday.
Emmanuel said though the country was in recession, the citizens must be given hope that government was on the right path to recovery.
“You must give hope to the citizens and I think we are on the right path and we are going somewhere and where we are going to will bring about Prosperity, job creation and at the end of the day, we just want to improve on living standard of every citizen.
“I believe in what we normally say that once the passion is right nothing is impossible. We are not limited to what we see all over the world, we are not limited by the recession and based on what people see, we go beyond that. Go beyond biases, ethnicity, religion even in gender just rise to togetherness. That’s the message.
“Once government is ongoing, there is always a project, we don’t celebrate projects, either you inaugurate or build a new one but I am one governor that doesn’t make so much noise, we still have a long way to go. You can also say you have achieved when you stamped out hunger and unemployment. You cannot be happy when you see a young man that finished school and has not been employed, so we cannot roll out drums to celebrate but only to Thank God and we are going to the promised land and we will be there. But mind you, the way to the promised land, you have to pass through the wilderness,” he said.