By Henry Umoru
THE thirty- six State Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) are at the moment engaged in a marathon meeting ahead of Thursday’s 97th National Economic Council, NEC meeting.
The governors who are meeting at the NGF’s Secretariat, Lake Chad, Maitama, Abuja are having such a meeting for the first time after the decision by the Federal Government’s decision to recover the sum of N614 billion advanced to 35 states as a budget support facility.
The governors are meeting to take a common position of the bailout deductions.
The NGF is chaired by the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
It would be recalled that the Minister Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had at the last NEC meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in August disclosed the plans of the Federal government.
Zainab Ahmed had at the Public Consultation Forum on the draft 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework in Abuja on September 10th said the deductions will begin in two weeks, which falls on September 27th. She told the Governors.
The federal government gave the conditional budget support facility to the states through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2017.
It was to enable the states to meet their financial obligations to civil servants and pensioners.
The money was provided at a nine per cent interest rate, with a grace period of two years.
Ahmed had said the repayment will be taken from the affected states’ allocations during the next Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting this month.
According to her, the refund was not going to be treated as revenue to be used to fund the 2020 budget, adding, “It was a loan that was advanced by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the states.”
Ahmed who further explained that because the payment was made by the CBN, the recovery process is for the loans to be deducted from the FAAC allocations of the states and remitted back to the CBN, adding that the process will not require a consideration of the fiscal strategy paper (FSP) implementation, but to ensure the states stayed on the path of fiscal sustainability.
The minister had said, “This will not be a condition for the deduction. We will deduct direct at source and remit to the CBN “
At the Governors meeting are Babatunde Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Sirake Dickson (Bayela), Abubakar Badaru, (Jigawa), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Aminu Masari (Katsina) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).
The Deputy Governors in attendance are Nasarawa and Kaduna.