Unknown to many Nigerians, the 36 cash-strapped states of the federation, with the approval of the Federal Government, have secretly shared the sum of $4 billion said to be part of the money refunded to Nigeria by the Paris and London Clubs.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, were said to have over¬paid the financial institutions when Nigeria cleared debts owed foreign creditors.
The lid on the secret sharing of the money was opened by a Benin-based online news medium which claimed that the money was paid to the accounts of the states last Monday.
Consequently, The AUTHORITY approached the appropriate authorities for confirmation. While some officials of the Ministry of Finance feigned ignorance of the sharing of the money, others said that they were not in a position to speak on the matter.
It was learnt that the money was the over-deductions on the Paris and London Clubs’ loans on the accounts of state and lo¬cal governments between February 1990 and March 2002.
The monies shared by the various governors were allegedly credited into their respec-tive accounts on Monday, November 21, 2016.
The beneficiaries, which included governors of both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peo¬ple’s Democratic Party (PDP), curiously preferred to keep the general public in the dark which informed the clandestine pay-ment.
Some Nigerians, who re¬acted to the sharing of the re¬fund, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to monitor how the governors would use the money.
It was learnt that while approving the disbursement, President Muhammadu Buhari charged the state governors to use the money to settle the civil servants’ salaries and im¬prove on the welfare of other Nigerians.
According to sources, Edo State got N82 billion, Osun N84 billion, Kogi N80 billion, Nasarawa N68 billion, Plateau and Benue received N75 billion and N91 billion respectively.
When The AUTHORITY contacted the Ministry of Finance on the sharing of the largesse, its officials kept mum.
The media aide to the min¬ister, Mr. Festus Akanbi, refused to pick his calls.
The Ministry’s Director of Information, Mr. Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, said that he was not in the office and could not react to the issue. He suggested that the question should be direct¬ed to the Office of the Account¬ant-General of the Federation.
But a media aide to one of the governors from one of the South-South states told The AU¬THORITY that they were expecting funds from Abuja but the amount has not been disclosed to them.
An official of the Edo State government, who was contact¬ed on the issue, denied that the new governor received such a huge amount.
Some presidential aides contacted declined to respond to The AUTHORITY’s enquiries.
Also, an aide to a governor in one of the South East states said he was not aware but prom¬ised to give details on the issue today.