The Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, a coalition of anti-corruption organisations, has petitioned the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, to immediately suspend the bailout loan to Katsina State.
CSNAC’s call is sequel to a PREMIUM TIMES’ exclusive report that revealed that the Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, lied to the federal government to get N11 billion bailout loan supposedly to pay workers salary arrears, when indeed workers in the state were not owed.
In the petition dated September 9, 2014, to the governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, CSNAC also called on the apex bank to thoroughly investigate the bailout claim made by the state, and those of other states, with the aim of recovering any fund that might have been fraudulently received.
Following the inability of many states in the federation to pay the salaries of their workers for several months, the Buhari administration had earmarked N338 billion as a bailout loan to the states to help settle the salary arrears of their workers.
PREMIUM TIMES findings, however, revealed that Mr. Masari had lied his state was insolvent and needed bailout worth N11billion. In a letter to the state’s House of Assembly asking for approval to access the loan, Mr Masari claimed that on his assumption of office on May 29, his government inherited, two months outstanding salaries of the State’s Civil Servants and Local Government employees, from the immediate past administration of Ibrahim Shema.
“I would like to request for the Honourable House’s consent for the State government to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria for a Bail Out of outstanding workers’ salary in the State and Local governments.
“Mr Speaker may wish to know that at the time of the take-off of this administration, the State and Local Governments in the State owed workers two months’ salary to the tune of N11,086,632,741.32 broken down as follows: Katsina State: N3,646,943,099.80; 34 local government councils: N7,439,689,641.32; Total: N11,086,632,741,.32.
“It is in the view of the need for the State Government and Local Governments to meet their obligation in the payment of outstanding workers’ salary, considering the lean resources inherited from the former administration that it has become necessary for the State Government to apply for the bail out on behalf of the State and Local Governments,” Mr Masari wrote to the state’s parliament who approval was required to access the federal bailout.
However, our investigation revealed that all workers in the services of both the State and Local Governments had their full salaries paid up till May, when Mr. Masari became governor. In fact, this much was confirmed by Mr Masari’s Chief Press Secretary, Abdul Labaran, when this newspaper contacted him.
“From the foregoing, this is an alleged case of attempted fraud and corruption which the administration of President Buhari is working tirelessly to stem its tide. This action by a Governor of the President’s State tends to cast serious aspersion on the President’s anti-corruption drive,” the letter read.
“With Central Bank’s vested mandate of vetting and approving bailout for each state, after meeting certain conditions, we therefore by this petition request that a thorough investigation be conducted into this allegation as stated above, and other likely States, in order to ensure a full recovery of any fund that might have been fraudulently received on the basis of false claims by some States.”