Nexim

House to Probe Bailout Funds to States

5 years ago | 28



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THE House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the terms and conditions for the disbursement and utilisation of the N689 billion bailout funds to 27 states, to enable them meet their financial obligations particularly to workers. The House said this was necessary to determine the level of compliance and to ascertain the necessity for further disbursement as being considered by the federal government.

The resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Karimi Sunday, who recalled that, the sum of N20 billion was released as bailout to his home state (Kogi) four months ago. He expressed worry at the report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, which indicted several states on the utilisation of the funds, adding that the good intention of the federal government has been frustrated.

Karimi lamented that several states owe their workers between two and seven months salaries, despite the funds received, including owing retirement benefits and gratuities of their civil servants. “Many states were reported to have stocked the funds meant for staff salaries in interest bearing accounts, while employees continue to wallow in hunger, poverty and lack. Some of these workers have even lost their lives because of inability to meet their daily needs,” he said.

Several members, in their submission, raised the issue of the legality of the bailout funds without appropriation by the National Assembly.

Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of House, cited Section 80 (2) of the 1999 Constitution on usage of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which must be through an Appropriation Act.

Femi Gbajabimila, majority leader of the House, supported the argument, but noted that the good intention to bailout states which seemed in desperate needs of funds may have made the National Assembly drop the ball on the matter. “When you do not pay salaries, you do not stimulate the economy,” he said and also cited the ICPC reports stating that some states diverted the funds.

Leo Ogor, minority leader of the House, said there is a need to determine if there was any abuse in the process of disbursement, and if the ministry of finance followed due process. Ogor acknowledged that while the bailout funds were disbursed without appropriation but with good intentions, the constitution must be respected.

—  Jul 25, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT

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