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Terms for states as N500b Paris Club refund is ready

Another London-Paris Club loan refund (about N500billion) is on the way for states— with fresh hurdles for governors.

The Presidency has made it mandatory for all the states to account for the first tranche of the loan refunds – in line with the agreement it reached with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).

States implicated in the mismanagement of the first tranche may not get the fresh funds.

Some of the 36 governors are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) for allegedly diverting the first tranche of the refund.

The governors (seven are involved in the scandal) engaged some curious consultants, who got part of their states’ share of the refund.

Part of the funds was allocated to some National Assembly leaders who had no business with the refund, it was learnt.

The Nation gathered that the Presidency was set to release fresh refund to states —in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to rescue the 36 states from economic collapse.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The government is about to release another tranche of London-Paris Club loan refunds to states. It is about the same amount like the first tranche. Let us say about N500billion.

“The refund is entirely the initiative of the Federal Government to improve the socio-economic situation in the 36 states. President Buhari was disturbed that many states were finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries and pensions.

“But the release of the second batch of refund will be based on some conditions as agreed upon by the Presidency and the Nigerian Governors Forum(NGF). President Buhari has said that he will not accept any excuse from any governor for diverting public funds.

“Before the first tranche was released, the NGF had an agreement with President Buhari that about 25 per cent to 50 per cent will be used to offset outstanding salaries and pensions.

“This time around, the Presidency has made up its mind that any state which breached the agreement will not be entitled to second tranche.”

Asked how the Presidency will know, the source added: “We have feedback from the states on how some of these governors have diverted and misused the first set of refunds. Some of them did not spend up to 15 per cent on salaries and pensions. The records are there to prove the breach.

“ We also got reports from security agencies, labour, pensioners, concerned leaders in various states and many whistle-blowers on how the governors spent the first tranche.”

The source described security reports on some of the governors as “damning”.

Nation, March 13,2017

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