By Leke Adeseri, South West Editor; Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Rotimi Ojomoyela
ABUJA—The Federal Government said, yesterday, it stopped paying Ekiti State funds from the Budget Support Facility, BSF, because the state failed to meet the requirements it set for the programme in alliance with governors of the 36 states of the federation.
A statement by the Director of Information of the Federal Ministry of Information, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna, in Abuja , yesterday, indicated that Ekiti had been warned about the situation, as at August, last year, but that the warning was ignored.
But Governor Fayose told Vanguard, yesterday, that he was surprised to hear that the Finance Minister actually denied stopping the disbursement to Ekiti because of failure to meet the requirements.
He said: ‘’She denied stopping our allocation because we failed to meet the requirement at the Federal Executive Council meeting, yesterday (Wednesday).’’
However, Na’Inna said: “The fact is that Ekiti State government failed to comply with the necessary requirements for participating in the Budget Support Facility, BSF, which is a Conditional Loan Programme to state governments introduced, with the view to enhance fiscal prudence and designed particularly to enhance transparency, efficiency in public expenditure and payment of salaries.
“This is not the first time of non-compliance by Ekiti State government. His administration defaulted in meeting the conditions specified and agreed upon by the 35 state governments that are participating in the programme as contained in the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and Ekiti State government was warned formally of its failure to comply with the full requirements vide a letter on August 5, 2016, with reference number HMF/FMF/ASG/1/2016.
“The failure of Ekiti State government to comply with the requirements and conditions for the Budget Support Facility, BSF, resulted in a letter sent to the Chief of Staff to notify him of the suspension of BSF for Ekiti State and it was conveyed to Mr. President before payment to Ekiti State government was reinstated.
“Ekiti State government and all the other participating states are aware of the consequence of failure to comply with the full conditions and it is not the first time that a state would be stopped from accessing the facility due to non-compliance.
‘’In the course of its normal duties, the Ministry of Finance has the right to query, suspend or withhold funds as part of the conditions of the Budget Support Facility.
“The process is for the Commissioner of Finance of any state or the governor having issues to contact the Federal Ministry of Finance and resolve the issues without resorting to the media because such issues are of a financial nature and, therefore, confidential; they are routinely resolved amicably by the parties involved.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to restate very strongly that the Budget Support Facility is a conditional programme and the federal government would not be intimidated or threatened in the discharge of its duties.”
When Vanguard asked to know what specific conditions of the BSF Ekiti State failed to meet, an official who insisted he must not be quoted, said the Resolution by the State House of Assembly, authorizing it, which should be approved by the state Executive Council, was never submitted by the state.
Another official said the BSF was a loan that must be repaid, adding that each state must meet the condition before it could benefit from it.
Ekiti State government in its reaction, described the explanation as an afterthought meant to mislead the public.
Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said the state signed for N14.4 billion and had received funds monthly in the last seven months from the Ministry of Finance.
“So when did they realise that Ekiti State did not meet the conditions? Or did they send the allocations in the last seven months in error?” Olayinka queried.
He also argued that there was no warning letter or notification from the Ministry of Finance before the governor raised the alarm, else there would have been no need for the governor to write a letter to the ministry demanding explanations on the non-release of the funds.
“If they sent any letter, maybe they sent it today, because the governor was there yesterday (Wednesday) and before then no one knew the reasons the funds were not released.
“As I am talking to you, we have not received any letter from the ministry, if they sent any letter, maybe they sent it today. This explanation is an afterthought.”
Olayinka also said he was aware that the funds were earlier sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria along those of other states, but was later recalled, with the name of Ekiti State removed from the list of 35 states.
It’s an attempt by APC to undermine Fayose’s govt— PDP
Meanwhile, Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has fingered the leadership of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the alleged seizure of the January federation allocation to Ekiti State.
The party described the action as not only anti-people but also a deliberate attempt to undermine Ayo Fayose’s government and make Ekiti ungovernable, ahead of the 2018 governorship election.
The PDP said this much was evident in the statement issued by Ekiti State APC which assumed the position of the spokesperson of Federal Ministry of Finance, explaining the reason behind the action of the FG as the time the Minister of Finance was assuring the state that the matter would be looked into.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State had on Wednesday, said there was no truth in the claim of Governor Fayose that the federal government had withheld the state monthly allocation, saying what was withheld was the special funds approved by the Federal Government for budget support intervention in states.
The APC accused Governor Ayodele Fayose of lying and instigating Ekiti people against President Muhammadu Buhari and APC-led Federal Government and for blaming the federal government for his inability to pay workers.
In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary, Mr Jackson Adebayo, in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, PDP added that APC had ignorantly exposed itself with the statement, to the extent that the whole world would not need any other explanation than to conclude that Nigeria had become a despotic state where fascism now thrived.
Adebayo maintained that the APC-led Federal Government had become a party of woe that would not care about the welfare of the people it governed.
“It’s only in a despotic state you can think of government playing politics with the welfare of the governed, while decorating governance with blind vengeance as it operates now with the APC- led federal government,’’ the party stated.
PDP stressed that it had been vindicated by the various alarms that it had raised in the past that the leadership of the APC had perfected plans to wreak havoc in the state through dastardly actions that would undermine the government of the state, as part of its quest to wrestle power from the PDP in 2018.
According to the PDP, the recent gathering of leaders of APC in the house of the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, is one of a series of meetings where all nefarious plans against the interest of Ekiti people are being regularly orchestrated and hatched.
The PDP added that the party held at the end of the meeting, was actually to celebrate the seizure of the allocation to the state.
PDP further stated that the statement issued by the APC on the withheld allocation was preconceived and even prepared before the action of the federal government, as all the members of the party had the premonition of the antics of their leaders who had boasted to them on various occasions that from January 2017, Ekiti State would not receive allocation again.
“The Ekiti PDP condemn this wickedness masterminded by the APC to stifle life out of the people of the state…”