Buhari accuses National Assembly of inflating debts payable to states; demands review

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the Budget to the National Assembly
FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the Budget to the National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari has accused the National Assembly of inflating debts to be repaid by the federal government to deserving states.

He also asked the National Assembly to review the amount it approved as debt repayment to the states.

The debt repayment in promissory notes is for projects executed on behalf of the federal government by various state governments.

A promissory note is a debt instrument which one party promises in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other, either at a fixed or determinable future time, under specific terms.

His request was communicated via a letter which was read out by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday.

In the letter, Mr Buhari pointed out that the total amount approved by the National Assembly was higher than the amount approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

He also queried the National Assembly for approving reimbursement to 21 states even after the FEC approved for 25 states.

Part of the statement read: “You may wish to refer to the letter from the National Assembly REF: NASS/CNA/106/Vol.10/277 dated 27th of July 2018 which communicated the approval by the National Assembly of the promissory note programme and a bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations on refund to state governments on projects executed on behalf of the federal government in the sum of N488,743,526,204.77.

“The Senate may wish to know that in view of the approval by the National Assembly, the following were observed:

– While the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the total 0f N487,842,888,574.74 only, as reimbursement to the state governments, the National Assembly approved N488,743,526,204.77, implying that the amount approved by the National Assembly was N890,537,630,03 higher than the amount approved by FEC.

– While FEC approved reimbursement to 25 states, National Assembly approved reimbursement to 21 states.

– National Assembly did not approve any reimbursement for four states; Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba whereas the FEC had approved reimbursement for them.

– And note that the amount approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement by 21 states are higher than the amounts approved by the Federal Executive Council for reimbursement to 25 states.

– The amounts approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement to each of the 21 states is higher than the amounts approved by FEC to each of these states except for Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.”

The president referred to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 which empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement to approve vendors’ and contract sum before presentation to the National Assembly for approval after FEC approval.

This, he said, is after the projects have been inspected under the chairmanship of the works minister.

“Since the BPP is charged with the responsibility of approving contract sums, and there’s a need for compliance with the Public Procurement Act 2007, I wish to request that you forward to us details relating to the amounts approved by the National Assembly for the 17 states excess of what was certified by the BPP for necessary certification and approval.

“Furthermore, I wish to request for review of the reimbursement earlier submitted in favour of Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba States. Meanwhile, the federal government shall proceed with the implementation on the following basis:

1. Where the amount approved by the National Assembly is the same as the amount approved by FEC, the jointly approved amount will be reimbursed. The states ate Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

2. Where the amount approved by the National Assembly is higher than the amount approved by FEC, the amount approved by FEC will be reimbursed. The states are Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara.

3. And where no amount is approved by National Assembly, no reimbursement will be made. The affected states are Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba,” he said.

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