Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State has said his administration would pursue the issue of looted funds recovery in line with stipulated regulations, saying billions of naira of state funds were withdrawn in cash by the previous administration without explanation.
The governor, who announced this in a broadcast on Thursday night, also reduced the number of permanent secretaries from 54 to 25, and reduced the number ministries from 23 to 14.
He said the Head of Service would provide further information on the changes, and noted that the decision was part of efforts toward reducing the burden of governance.
“We are not going to use the poor condition in which we met most institutions in the state as an excuse.
“I have embarked on strategic public sector reforms to strengthen the institutions of governance for the delivery of quality services that will improve the living standard of our people,’’ he said.
On alleged looted funds, the governor said monies meant for projects were also diverted and possibly stolen.
“For example, an examination of only two bank accounts of Government House shows more than N70 billion cash withdrawals by a few officials who must explain the purpose for which the withdrawals were made.
“The operation of the Joint Account was characterised by diversions and misapplications of huge funds, especially those paid to Ward Development Projects and 10km Roads Projects.’’
He said that N832.5 million of the 10km road project was transferred to Local Government Chairmen Forum, N75 million to Government House and N300 million to Office of the Secretary to the State Government.
The governor said this accounted for why most of the 10km road projects were abandoned by the contractors.
He explained that the administration would continue to give priority to people-oriented project and programmes.
Mr. Bello said that key areas of health, education and agricultural would be used as tools to uplift youths and reduce unemployment.