A panel of inquiry set up to probe the accounts of the 16 local government areas in Kwara State has recommended that the government should ensure monthly publication of wage bill, revenue, and expenditure at the state and local government levels.
The governor of the state, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on August 11, commissioned the panel to investigate the allegations of diversion of local government funds or borrowings from the bank to pay salaries of local government workers.
The eight-member panel included retired Justice Adewara, the chairperson; Halimah Bello, who represented the State Security Service and Asmau Apalando, a member of the Nigerian Labour Congress.
This update was contained in a statement issued by the chief press secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye.
Mr Adewara, who presented the panel report on Thursday, advised the government to ensure monthly publication of the total wage bill, internally generated revenue, and expenditure at the state and local government levels.
This, according to him, would guarantee accountability and transparency which will promote the integrity of the government in the minds of the people.
Consequently, that would prevent future recurrence of doubt, allegations of financial misappropriation emanating from the people against the government, Mr Adewara was quoted to have said.
This comes days after the former commissioner for special duties, Aisha Pategi, made the same call.
Ms Pategi who was previously in charge of the ministry for local government and chieftaincy affairs, on Monday, challenged the state government to publish the local governments’ financial accounts starting from 2019.
She also demanded compliance with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) that states and local governments should not operate joint accounts.
“#FreeKwaraLGAmoney must be achieved according to the NFIU guidelines; ensuring LG fund are transferred to them directly from JAAC account,” she wrote.
The panel, set up to look into the funds allocated to the local governments from May 2019, said it found no evidence that the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq administration borrowed to pay salary or pension since it was inaugurated.
“We want to state categorically that there is no evidence either oral or documentary to support the allegation of N300 million monthly deduction from the local government funds by the state government. The allegation of such deductions is therefore baseless, unfounded and false,” Mr Adewara said late Wednesday when the panel submitted its report to the governor.
According to the statement, Mr Adewara said a total of 35 witnesses testified before the panel while several documents were produced and tendered by them.
“He said the panel also visited some of the local governments to see what projects they have done as had earlier been submitted by the director of personnel management who appeared before them.”
The report of the panel meanwhile has found that the state government “does not deduct money from the SUBEB account while salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff are paid as and when due from May 29 to date”.
Mr Adewara said the panel only received a memorandum from the Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD), adding that the questions the civic group raised in its memo were “all based on incomplete information sourced from the internet and social media.
“Meanwhile, all the grey areas have been thoroughly thrashed out to the satisfaction of Mr Suleiman Oladimeji (of ENETSUD), having been confronted with the documents earlier submitted to the panel by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance.”
It was, however, stated that the last administration under former Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, took two separate loans in the name of the local governments N4 billion and another N1.6 billion.
“The past administration obtained a loan of N4 billion from a commercial bank for payment of two months arrears of salaries of local government staff. It was this loan that the local governments were repaying at monthly instalments of N317 million. The loan of N4 billion has been fully repaid in September 2019.
“There is another loan of N1.6 billion also obtained by the past administration while the repayment of the loan is ongoing and will terminate in August 2022. It means therefore that the present administration inherited the obligation to repay the loan.”