Official Allays Fears over Reported Crisis in NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says no crisis is rocking the forum or its secretariat.

The secretariat said this in a statement issued by its Director, Legal, Mr Chijioke Chuku, for the management of the forum, in Abuja on Monday.

Chuku was reacting to allegations raised by the NGF former Director of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo.

He described the allegations as baseless, inflammatory, misguided allegations and character assassination.

He said that the allegations made in the publication and credited to Bello-Barkindo were already being investigated by the Police and also a subject matter of a suit pending before a court of law.

“Hence as a law-abiding organisation, we shall co-operate fully with the Police in their investigation and ensure the prosecution of any individual that is behind this unwarranted attack.

“We want to assure our concerned friends and development partners who have been waiting anxiously for our comments, that there is no substance whatsoever in the allegations contained in the publication.

“Our refrain from joining issues is as a result of the need not to do or engage in any activity that may interfere with or prejudice the on-going investigation and court action instituted by Bello-Barkindo,’’ he explained.

Chuku appealed to media houses not to allow their platform to be used by disgruntled elements in the dissemination of falsehood, saying the forum shall not shy away from vigorously defending its reputation and goodwill.

“We wish to reiterate that Bello-Barkindo is no longer an employee of the NGF. Anyone dealing with him on account of his employment at the NGF does so at his/her own risk,’’ he said.

Bello-Barkindo had earlier in a letter addressed to the NGF Chairman, Gov. AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman of Kwara called for the forensic audit of forum.

He alleged that the secretariat was on the verge of imploding under his watch, adding that the NGF was now more transactional than developmental.

Bello-Barkindo alleged that the secretariat’s accounts had not been audited in the last decade to say the least.

“Even the phony auditors invited to mock the auditing process have at various times confessed that the job they are doing for the secretariat is a wash.

“Has anyone ever wondered why an institution that midwife’s huge monetary deals like the Paris-London refunds does not have a qualified accountant?

“In an organisation that makes over three billion Naira annually, the total annual income of its entire staff is seventy million Naira. Staff of the Forum are always asking where all the money goes. There is a staff that earns N20,000 a month.’’

He said that while the NGF was supposed to be non-partisan, two of the management staff men were pulling the forum in the wrong direction like politics and illegal transactions.

“There are instances. The N630m deductions from the N5bn infrastructure support fund which ended in a shouting bout among governors while you are chairman was a deliberate ploy to make you look bad among your colleagues,’’ Bello-Barkindo alleged.

He called for urgent steps to ameliorate the situation.

“In my opinion, the NGF requires a forensic audit of all its accounts including those that were opened during crises periods to avoid the prying eyes of governors,’’ he said.

On the Paris-London Club transaction which the NGF midwifed, the NGF made close to N19 billion out of which the staff of the NGF were to be rewarded with N850 million by the then chairman of the forum.

He alleged that one of the accused two management staff alone took N250 million while the executive directors were given N200 million each, the remaining staff were left with N200 million.

Bello-Barkindo, who alleged that purported letter was written and submitted on his behalf without his consent, said that he remained a staff of the forum.

“As far as I am concerned, I am still a staff of the NGF as no D-G can whimsically sack me through non-procedural means because as a Director only the chairman or a committee of governors can take a decision on my employment,’’ Bello-Barkindo said. (NAN)

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