Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and his Delta State counterpart, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, have hinted that none of the 36 states of the federation has received its share of the N713.6billion bailout funds promised them by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While Governor Oshiomhole spoke after a reception in honour of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, at Sabongida Ora, in Owan West Local Government Area on Saturday, Governor Okowa gave his account in Asaba, the state capital in a statement he issued through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu.
The money is meant to assist the states clear the backlog of their workers’ salaries.
Oshiomhole however told journalists after the event that there were ongoing negotiations between the governors and the Federal Government on the release of the funds.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had been “extremely positive” in admitting that he does not want to rule over a country where workers were not paid their salaries.
Governor Oshiomhole said: “It doesn’t matter who is responsible for it; but at the end of the day, it is simply not acceptable to have a situation in which about 13, 14, 15 states for two, three, four, five, sometimes, one year, have not paid people their salaries. President Buhari is angry with that and he is ready to work out programmes to deal with it and then, going forward, to look at the structural issues in the expenditure pattern of states because nobody ever has enough.
“The basic law of economics is that resources are scarce in relation to our wants. So, who gets what done has to be a matter of creativity, of priority and of proper costing and project management.
“So, I think the good news is that the President is there to stand by us in finding solutions beyond cash giving. Nobody has gotten any dime. But there is always a time lag between when you conceptualise a solution, when you think through it, when you reach a conclusion and when it begins to manifest,” he said.
In his reaction, Governor Okowa described as “absolutely false and misleading” media reports that N70billion had been paid to or received by his administration as bailout funds by the Federal Government.
The governor also debunked reports that he had dissolved the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC.
He said: “We want to make it clear that no N70billion under any guise, whether allocation, bailout or gratis, was released to the state.”
He explained that what happened was that the state government is desirous of getting around its huge debt burden and approach the Debt Management Office, DMO, to negotiate a restructuring of its debt particularly debt owed to commercial banks with strangulating interest rates and other terms.
“That restructuring or conversion of this category of debts (to bonds) was successfully secured through the DMO earlier this month to give his government a financial breathing space,” he stated.
Aniagwu continued: “You would recall that when the governor briefed the House of Assembly, he made it clear that the debt burden of the state is huge and beyond the contractual obligations, the commercial debts to banks and the repayment conditionality were quite strangulating.
“As a proactive administration, the government sought ways to alleviate the burdens so as to deliver on its promise of prosperity to all Deltans.
“One of the ingenious ways the government considered was to explore the option of the Federal Government bond. What this meant was that
the state liaised with the Debt Management Office to take over the commercial loans and restructure them to Federal Government bonds giving the state a long repayment period without increasing the debt burden of the state.
“Certain conditions were attached to the bonds for the state government to meet, the state government has met the conditions and the Federal Government is considering the application,” he emphasised.
The governor stressed that the debt restructuring was “a proactive step to enable this administration deliver on its promise of prosperity for all Deltans.”
On DESOPADEC, the governor debunked the dissolution story, noting that only the board of the commission, which has already outlived its
tenure, was dissolved by the government.
“We want to make it clear that the commission is intact and never dissolved,” Okowa stated, adding that, “what was dissolved is the board of DESOPADEC which tenure has elapsed long before now.”
He further explained that “Section 7 of the DESOPADEC Act, provides for a three-year tenure for members of the commission, the board in question was inaugurated August 2011 and reconstituted in November 2012, the life of the board was thus extended by three months (to cover September-November 2012 when they were out of office) and it lapsed by November 2014 following the expiration of their three years tenure as spelt out in Section 7.
“That meant that they (board members) have overstayed their three-year tenure. We are also aware of report suggesting that contractors are being owed money because the board has been dissolved, nothing can be further from the truth as one of the early actions of our governor on assumption of office was to direct the release of N2billion to the commission to enable it meet its regular and contractual obligations and it is pertinent to also point out here that the commission between January and May 2015 received N3.5billion,” Okowa noted.

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