Speech By Gov Bello Exposing How Ex-gov Babangida Aliyu, PDP Plundered Billions In Niger State
STATE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELENCY, ALHAJI ABUBAKAR SANI BELLO, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF NIGER STATE, ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN NIGER STATE, ON THURSDAY, 10TH SEPTEMBER, 2015.
It is with utmost sense of responsibility to Almighty Allah that I speak to you today. I also take this opportunity to humbly acknowledge the sacrifices and support of all Nigerlites for the mandate bestowed on us and to assure you of our firm determination to discharge those responsibilities without fear or favour.
These past 100 days have been characterized by setting the right agenda towards the path of sustainable development and prosperity through fact-finding to determine our resources capacity for effective allocation to our priority sectors and programmes. Thank God, we now have a clearer picture of the state of affairs of our situation, and I must confess it is not a pretty depiction. While we are not going to use the poor condition in which we met most institutions in the state as an excuse, it is our paramount belief that we owe you a duty; a duty to be meticulous in reviewing and strategizing our plans and fiscal options to ensure that whatever we do is within implementable margin and based on priorities of the people, our collective aspirations and available resources.
Public Sector Reforms
In my Inaugural Speech, I promised to ensure that financial instructions and the Civil Service Rules are strictly adhered to. In fulfillment of that pledge, I have embarked on strategic public sector reforms to strengthen the institutions of governance for the delivery of quality services that will improve the living standard of our people. That is the reason we recently called a Stakeholders’ Summit in conjunction with some of our international development partners to broaden the spectrum of consultation and needs assessment towards preparing a blueprint for the State.
Meanwhile, through the review of the existing vision documents, Agriculture, Health, Education and Empowerment have been identified as critical to our development process even as we await the blueprint from the summit. After due consideration of the report on the rationalization, the number of Ministries have been reduced from 23 to 14, and Permanent Secretaries from 54 to 25. Details of the new civil service reforms will be provided by the Head of Service.
Our position on calls to Institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry
Admittedly, every Nigerlite has the right to be informed about our activities. The call from certain quarters to institute Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe the immediate past administration has not fallen unto deaf ears. However, my position and indeed that of our party the APC is to meticulously and professionally review the activities of the past administration. Although this may be devoid of the drama that characterize the past exercise in the state, it is, in our opinion most effective and cost efficient. Nevertheless, it suffices to point out that earlier on, we instituted a Financial Management Committee to look at all major financial transactions of the State and Local Governments from May 2007 to May 2015.
Interim Findings of the Financial Management Committee
The Financial management Committee (FMC) has made substantial progress and the findings are quite revealing. A review of the operations of some of the major bank accounts of the state and the Local Government Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) over the last 8 years revealed some despicable patterns such as huge cash withdrawals by Government officials, private individuals and PDP officials and members. For example, an examination of only two bank accounts of Government House shows more than N70Billion cash withdrawals by a few officials who must explain the purpose for which the withdrawals were made.
The operation of the joint Account was characterized by diversions and a misapplication of huge funds especially those paid to Ward Development Projects and 10KM Roads Projects. For instance, out of the total sum of over N11Billion paid to the accounts of Ward Development Projects, the relevant officials of the Ministry of Local Government could not account for N2.86 Billion while N613 Million was spent on “ghost” vehicles and N675.50 million was said to be lent to Ministry of Finance where the funds cannot be traced. Similarly, the sum of N 498 Million purportedly spent on security cannot be traced to any security outfit or individual.
Even the N 5 Billion that was allegedly transferred to the Ministry of Local Government could not be accounted for as most of the funds never reached the various Local Governments. The amounts that were actually received by the Local government accounts were more or less shaared among PDP members. Besides, a large chunk of the funds meant for the 10KM Road Project were transferred to Local Government Chairmen Forum (N832.5 Million), Government House (75.00Million) and office of the Secretary to the State Government (N300.00 M). It is no wonder most of the 10KM road Projects were abandoned by the contractors.
Another channel for siphoning State funds by the last administration was the Special Projects which were characterized by breach of due process and inflated contracts. For example, the contract for Solar Power Street Lightening was awarded to a contractor at N 233.3Million and down payment of N174,85 Million was made to him. The contract was revoked without the advance payment being recovered. Instead, the contract was rewarded to another contractor at the cost of N792Million which is twice the initial cost.
Furthermore, the Minna Modern Stadium contract initially awarded at N2.4 Billion was later revised to N1.8 Billion but not until the after the sum of N606M was paid for the design and preliminary works which were rejected by the Government without recovering the money. Moreover, an amount of about N1Billion for part funding of the purchase of shares in the North-South Power Project was not returned to the account of the Stadium even after the State Government divested from the Power Company.
The loan of N2.96Billion taken by the Ministry of Local Government last year has generated some controversy and therefore deserves mentioning here. The loan was taken in 2014 at a time the Ministry had N3Billion in its account and was therefore unnecessary. Worst still, the purpose for which the loan was taken kept on changing until it was finally disbursed. Apart from the amount of N994M transferred to the Pilgrims Welfares Board, the Ministry officials could not account for N 203M while N 572M and N530M were paid into the accounts of Government House and SSG’s office respectively. These amounts were later on paid out in cash to PDP officials and other individuals. The vehicles for which N30M was purportedly spent are nowhere to be found.
Numerous Incidents of Questionable Transactions
There are other numerous incidents of questionable transactions by the past administration discovered by the Finance Committee. These include selling of quoted shares of the State by the State Development Company amounting to more than N 500M which was never remitted to the account of the state. Also the sum of N1.06 Billion was disbursed in 2014 purpotedly for Ramadan Iftar whileN897M was spent on the purchase of sallah Rams. Contract for digging of pit latrines was awarded at N6M each.
The above are just few of the findings by the Financial Mnagement Committee. As soon as the the Committee finalizes its work, the full findings will be made public and handed over to the Security Agencies for necessary action.
Incessant Abandoned Projects.
For the avoidance of doubt, the projects inherited from the past administration especially in the areas of electricity, water supply and other abandoned projects are being critically examined and those that pass the test of high socio-economic impact and value will be continued. This is because we believe Government is a continuum and will not be allow the hard-earned public funds in the abandoned projects go down the drain.
Activities of the Infrastructure Committee
In view of the forgoing incessant abandoned projects, an infrastructural Committee was constituted to review all infrastructural contracts awarded from May 2007 to May 2015 with a view to identifying areas of their viability, misapplication of funds or otherwise as well as ensuring that future Infrastructural Developments in the State are in line with international best practices. So far, the committee’s activities have led to the continuation or completion of some road projects abandoned due to lack of payment to the contractors by the immediate past administration. It is pleasing to note that following the interim report of the committee, we have also embarked on the rehabilitation of some township roads: Sabon Gari – UK Bello road, Bosso Township roads, and Tegina Township roads. We intend to embark other road projects across the State soon.
State of the sanitary Condition of Abattoirs in the State.
Fellow Nigerlites, during our campaign tours across the state, we noticed with dismay the dilapidated and poor sanitary condition of Abattoirs. Consequently, I set up a high power committee to among other things come up with ways and means of improving the state of our Abattoirs in the areas of slaughter, preparation, transport and building new ones where possible. I am glad to inform you that from the brief I received, the Committee is already going round the abattoirs in the State with relevant stakeholders in the meat Industry, who had shown great enthusiasm to support the Government to achieve its objective in this area.
Youth and Women Empowerment.
On Youth Empowerment, the shall be engaged in productive ventures such as Agriculture value chain and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. Toward this end, we plan to train at least 370,000 youths every year in Entrepreneurial skills. Agriculture will be given the right attention by providing Farmers with implements and inputs. The process of development may be slow especially against the backdrop of several years of decay and dwindling revenue of the state but we are determined to make a difference.
I therefore call on all Nigerlites to exercise patience with us as we tow the lane of integrity in restoring good governance. Let me reiterate that we shall continue to maintain our stance of zero tolerance for corruption in all its facets. Our CHANGE agenda is determined to institute an enduring corporate culture that delivers real sustainable development to the people. This we are going to do through a highly motivated, lean public service as well as a financially disciplined political class, with probity and accountability as our watchwords.
We are determined to block leakages and wastages in governance. Furthermore, we are resolved to improve our internally generated revenue to match the great potentials of this State,
Finally, I wish to call on all Nigerlites irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliations to join hands with us as we strive toward good governance in fulfillment of our aspirations and vision.
Long live Niger State; long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria