…as PDP Senate Caucus Kicks
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday approved a promissory note issuance in the sum of N10.069 billion for Kogi State Government for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
The approval was a sequel to the consideration of the report of the Senator Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central led Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
The Senate approved the money for Kogi State despite protests from the Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP the timing was not favourable against the backdrop that it was being done two days to the Kogi State gubernatorial election.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, said: “the approved sum is in Capital Expenditure which has to do with a refund to the State Government for monies spent in the execution of Federal Government Projects in the state.”
Senator Ordia who noted that key officials of the state government were invited to brief the committee in the course of its legislative work, said that the committee also assessed all submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, as well as documents from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP and Kogi State Government.
He said the Committee undertook an oversight visit to Kogi State to assess the projects and maintained that the said projects met the required standard by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
According to Ordia, the projects inspected by the Committee were: reconstruction of Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, reconstruction of Idah-Onyedega road, and dualization of Lokoja-Ganaja road.
Other executed Federal projects were: reconstruction of a three-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of the four-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, and reconstruction of Iyamoje-Igagun-Ifeolu-Kptun-Ponyan-Jegede road.
In its findings, the Committee stated that “inspections were carried out by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing,” adding that Kogi State has completed all the said projects and paid all contractors that executed them.
Soon after the presentation, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Barau Jibrin, APC, Kano North who hailed the report and asked other States to emulate Kogi State, said “Kogi has done very well. This should be approved so as to show other governments to take a cue.”
At this point, coming under a point of order, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South, however, argued that the Senate’s approval is delayed until after the Kogi governorship election scheduled to hold this weekend.
He said that though he supports the payment of the money, but questioned the time against the backdrop that the approval was being given two days to the state election.
According to Abaribe, he was against the misuse of the money, expressed fears that it may not be expended properly for the people of Kogi State, adding that this was not the right time to pay the state the money.
On the way forward, the Minority Leader then suggested that it should be paid a week after the Kogi State gubernatorial election.
Abaribe said: “States that have done the work of the Federal Government should be paid.
“I agree they should be paid, what I don’t want is a misuse of this fund. I have the mandate of the minority to say this can wait until next week. Let’s us delay for only one week after elections then they can be paid.”
At this point, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan then said that the Senate was only doing the necessary and approving the money now was just a coincidence.
Following the President of the Senate’s remarks, the Chamber became charged as there was uproar, apparently from the opposition party Senators because of the way Abaribe’ s position was killed.
Though Lawan took only two observations when only Jibrin and Abaribe spoke, he later said, ” I don’t want to take any observation, I have heard enough.”
The President of the Senate in a counter-argument explained that Kogi State was entitled to be paid all monies spent on the execution of Federal Government projects in the state.
Lawan who noted that Kogi State was denied approval for a refund while 24 state governments received approval under the Eight Senate, said, “Kogi State applied for this refund in the last Senate. All the States that applied were approved here by the last Senate.
“Now as the ninth Senate, we have seen the necessity and are doing justice. We have done justice to others, and we have to do justice to Kogi State. When it is done is not the matter.”
Also reacting, Senator Uche Ekwenife, PDP, Anambra Central in a point of order said that it was important that he that seeks equity must do equity, stressing that states like Enugu, Anambra, and Imo were yet to be refunded money spent on execution of Federal Governments projects in their states.
President of the Senate then advised that states who were yet to be refunded should apply properly through the right process to the federal government
The Senate eventually approved President Buhari’s request for a refund to Kogi State government after a voice vote called by the Senate President.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had written the Senate, seeking approval of a total sum of N10.069 billion to Kogi State Government being a refund of money spent by the state on behalf of the Federal government.
President Buhari’s request was contained in a letter dated 10th October 2019 and read by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan during plenary.
According to the President, the requested amount is for the settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government to the State for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
President Buhari recalled that 24 out of 25 State Governments had received the approval of the National Assembly for the settlement of claims on projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
The President explained that the sum of N10.069 billion was an outstanding amount due to Kogi State Government which forms the only State yet to receive a refund.