Nigeria: N614 Billion Bailout Deductions - We Want to Pay Less, Governors Insist

24 January 2020

The 36 state governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, yesterday, agreed that there should be a review in the payment process of the N614 billion that was advanced to 35 states as budget support facility.

The governors who converged on Abuja Wednesday night for the meeting, discussed among others, issues of deductions for budget support facility loan granted them by the federal government as top of the agenda.

The meeting was ahead of yesterday's National Economic Council, NEC, at the Presidential Villa.

Responding to a question on reconciliation for budget support facilities after the meeting of the governors, Chairman of NGF and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said, "That is something that has been handled. We have come up with our own recommendations of special fund generally not just budget support facilities

"On budget support facilities specifically, states are already honouring their obligations. They are already paying back what is lent to the federal government.

"The question of the amount is something that we will continue to review. It is our view that we should be paying a lot less what we are paying but that is something that has not been addressed yet. But that has not stopped us from honouring the obligation to the federal government that lend the resources to us at the time that they did."

Recall that the Federal Government had in September, began deduction of the N614 billion bailout funds it gave to states for payment of salaries of workers in 2016.

The bailout refund had been on the agenda of the governors at every meeting since the federal government started the deductions.

Also recall that in October 2019, the governors kicked against the plan to extend the repayment period of its budget support to state governments from 20 to 30 years.

The federal government had explained that the monthly repayment had reduced from N252 million to N162 million based on the extension.

Also yesterday, the governors said that they were taking very serious steps to check the outbreak of Lassa Fever in some states of the country.

Answering question on the outbreak of the epidemic, governor Fayemi said, " Well this is the period where we have an upsurg, particularly of Lassa fever. I believe all our states are taking precautionary measures to address this in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). We are working to ensure that this does not spread any further that they have at the moment."

Recall that Lassa Fever outbreak has spread to Delta, Enugu and seven other States since the beginning of the year.

The disease has so far killed 16 people in Ondo, three in Kano, while Edo and Delta recorded one death each and hundreds of people are also on watch list across the country particularly in Kano and Ondo States.

Speaking further, NGF Chairman said that the governors agreed that the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy must ensure that it does not increase the right of way fee beyond what has been generally agreed by the governors and National Economic Council, NEC.

According to Fayemi, after the Communications Minister, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami met and briefed the governors, "The main demand with the minister is that we maintain the fee agreed in year 2013 at the National Economy Council which is N145 per linear metre in the state.

"The contest within which the issue of waver came up is what has been offered in Kaduna state for example where the state government has waved the right of way fee and that is not compulsory or decision of the forum even in demand from the minister that should be a condition for broadband penetration or fiber optic laying in our states.

"It is just that where we think might be visible, then states will look at the possibility of doing this in our states, but the key demand which we are all interested in pursuing is to ensure that we do not increase the right of way fee beyond what has been generally agreed by governors and NEC."

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