By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
THE governors of the oil states have faulted alleged attempt by the Federal Government to cast them as non-transparent, regarding 13 percent Derivation, Subsidy, and Sure-P Refunds, saying they had nothing to hide.
The governors, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), who is the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Godwin Obseeki (Edo); Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), spoke through their officials.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, last week, revealed that the Federal Government had released N625.43 billion in two years to oil states regarding Derivation, Subsidy, and Sure-P Refunds, with N1.1 trillion still outstanding.
Coming after Governor Nyesom Wike at loggerheads with other South-South governors, said he was executing projects in his state with the arrears of Derivation funds released by the Federal Government, it created a negative impression that other governors were opaque and frittering away Derivation fund.
Wike claimed he deployed his share of 13 percent refunds to fix infrastructure, including building 12 flyovers in Rivers.
Okowa, also the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, speaking through his Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, pooh-poohed the Federal Government’s insinuation that the oil states collected refunds without disclosing it to their citizens, maintaining that the state government was transparent in all its financial dealings on behalf of the people.
On alleged diversion of funds meant for local government areas, the governor challenged the Federal Government to name the governors allegedly involved in the act.
Tilije, accompanied by the Commissioner for Special Projects, Chief Henry Sakpra, and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in response to the statements by the Federal Government and Wike, said that Delta had only received N14.7 billion in three quarterly installments of N4.9 billion.
According to him, the total amount because of the state from the 13 percent Derivation arrears is N240 billion out of which the Federal Government agreed to pay in quarterly installments for five years.
“With the agreed amounts settled, some states like Rivers approached commercial banks and discounted theirs in full and collected, but Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa said he would not want to leave the next administration with a huge debt burden”, he stated.
“He resorted to discounting only N150 billion out of the N240 billion expected receivables, but later pruned it down to N100 billion.
“So far, we have got N14.7 billion in three quarterly installments and we have also accessed N30 billion out of the N100 billion we applied for as bridging finance.”
Speaking through the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, Edo State governor, Obaseki, said, “The figures released by the Federal Government have vindicated Edo State government. The figures contained regarding the 13 percent oil derivation refund further validate the figures that we released on November 23, 2022.
“We reassure Edo people that under the watch of Governor Godwin Obaseki, accountability will remain our watchword and all resources accruing to Edo State will be prudently and transparently used for the good of most Edo people.
“The State House press release has put to rest the irresponsible pastime of political detractors and unprogressive elements that resorted to conjuring up very ridiculous and absurd figures in their desperation to market themselves in the political space in this electioneering campaign season.
“For the records, the State House press release said the Federal Government paid deductions made by NNPC without payment of derivation to the nine oil-producing states in three installments, this year, with the remaining 17 installments outstanding.
“According to Eboigbe, Edo State’s share of that figure was N28 million, a small figure, out of the N1trillion, which was what got to us.
“So we have received three quarterly releases so far, N700 million, N700 Million, N700 million, totaling N2.1 billion that has come into the state’s coffers and it is verifiable in the bank, and the office of the Accountant General has the records.
“Our share was N28 billion, the net is to be distributed over five years, quarterly, that will be 20 quarterly installments releases, three have come so far, each has been N700 million, N700 million, N700 million and we have the records for anybody that wishes to see.”
“We stand by the figures we released, validated by the State House, and Edo people have no reason to worry.”
Nothing to hide
The governor of Bayelsa, Diri, said the state prudently spent the 13 percent oil derivation funds accruing to the state, mostly on infrastructure development.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, insisted that the administration had nothing to hide and that the state’s monthly allocations from the Federation Account, and had always made public its monthly allocations at its monthly transparency briefings.
Emmanuel, who spoke through his Special Assistant (SA) on Media, Rev. Richard Peters, dismissed the allegation that Akwa Ibom State government mismanaged its share of the 13 percent derivation arrears released by the Federal Government.