Governors Deny Alleged Diversion of Paris-London Club Refunds

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By James Emejo in Abuja

The 36 state governors in the country under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have refuted allegations that monies accruing to states from the Paris and London Club refunds have ended in private pockets.

They further contended that nothing illegal had been committed in the entire process leading to the final disbursement of the first tranche of Paris-London Clubs’ repayment of the excess deductions from states’ coffers and the refund to states.
In a statement by the Head of Media and Public Affairs, NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors explained that the Paris-London Club refunds have been on the cards since 2005 and that successive state governors had tried to get reimbursement of the excess deductions from their states in the past but did not succeed.

They credited the present NGF for persuading President Muhammadu Buhari to authorise the release of the refunds for disbursement to the deserving states.
The governors described the allegations as not only unfounded but misleading given that if the federal government had found “anything corrupt, illegal and unpatriotic about the payment or the utilisation of the first tranche of the Paris-London Clubs Fund repayment to states”, it would not have approved the payment of the second tranche to the states.
The governors, in the statement said: “In any case, those writing those fictitious reports on the payment have also acknowledged that the president has insisted on the verification of the process of utilisation of the first tranche before the second is approved for release.
“Note also most importantly at this juncture, that every decision that was taken in respect of all the transactions was with the full consent and blessing of the 36 governors.
“We therefore find the insinuation that monies went into the private accounts of seven unidentified governors as not only preposterous but mischievous.”
The forum further regretted that none of the media reports was able to “identify a single governor, not to mention seven of them”.

The governors added: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) itself had issued a release exculpating all the governors, saying it was investigating the matter further.
“But instead of allowing the EFCC to conclude its investigations, a particular section of the media resorted to this unsavory falsehood which puts the media and its practitioners in bad light.”
They maintained that due process was diligently followed by all approving authorities, including the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, and that the National Assembly was duly informed from the beginning to the end of all the transactions.
The governors submitted that “nothing illegal was done and no monies was paid into the personal account of any governor, legislator or top officials at any of the levels and arms of government in the country”.

The forum urged the media to be more responsible and abide by their professional ethics and desist from misinforming the society.
The statement read in part: “President Buhari’s desire to reflate the economy at a time when states were insolvent and unable to pay salaries was why he acceded to the request by the current group of governors that the money be released to the states.
“It is true that there were conditions attached to the disbursements but these arose from the collective and voluntary resolution of the governors and not any draconian order from any quarters.
“It shows that the governors themselves are responsible, sensitive and compassionate enough to understand the plight of Nigerians that they govern and therefore work in the interest of their people.

“It is important to state that in approving the repayment, due process was diligently followed and each and every approving authority, including the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria and Office of the Auditor General of the Federation as well as the National Assembly were duly informed from the beginning to the end of all the transactions.
“Nothing illegal was done and no monies were paid into the personal account of any governor, legislator or top officials at any of the levels and arms of government in the country.

“This brings us to the issue of consultants who facilitated the process. Indeed, a number of consultants were saddled with the task of verifying the amounts due to each of the states.
“These consultants were recruited by the respective states but were eventually collapsed into a consortium of only a few, even though the others who did not make it to the final group were reimbursed according to their input.
“Many more consultants throughout the country are still insisting that they did work on this same Paris-London Club repayments since a decade ago and that they are entitled to some compensation as well.
“Many of them had actually and verifiably done some work in the past and negotiated a fee of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, with the different states that engaged them.
“It was therefore immoral and impossible to deny each their due, provided their input is verified and justified.

“It should be noted that if the federal government under the watch of President Buhari had found anything corrupt, illegal and unpatriotic about the payment or the utilisation of the first tranche of the Paris-London Clubs repayment to states, it would not have approved the payment of the second tranche to the states.
“After all, we all know the unimpeachable level of commitment of President Buhari on the issues of transparency and accountability.

“In any case, those writing those fictitious reports on the payment have also acknowledged that the president has insisted on the verification of the process of utilisation of the first tranche before the second is approved for release.
“Note also most importantly at this juncture, that every decision that was taken in respect of all the transactions was with the full consent and blessing of the 36 governors.”

  • WJasper

    I don’t believe you Guys.