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States begin benefiting from Buhari’s bail out funds

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

States of the federation have started benefiting from the Special Intervention Fund aspect of the presidential relief package earlier approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This was disclosed Thursday at the National Economic Council (NEC), meeting held at the State House presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

While briefing the Council, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said 18 states had been able to draw from the fund while a number of other states are currently being processed for the soft loan facility. This is part of President Buhari’s relief package designed to help states pay backlog of salaries and also ease their financial challenges caused by the drop in federal allocation.

In a similar vein, Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr. Abraham Nwankwo, also informed the NEC that the second phase of the debt restructuring offered to the states is now in effect with 13 new states now being considered, with 12 banks involved.

This is in addition to 11 states whose debts were restructured last month, according to Nwankwo who also told the Council 23 states are now involved in the restructuring. While a total of over N322 billion of states loans were restructured last month, about N252 Billion have been restructured this month.

The NEC also received an ongoing report from its Ad-Hoc Committee of five governors on the management of the Excess Crude Account and related Federation Account issues. The Committee briefed the Council that it has observed a lack of transparency and accountability in the operation of the Federation Account, adding that there were no checks and balances in the running of the ECA in the recent past.

The five governors on the Ad-Hoc Committee are the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo; Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai (who presented the report to Council); Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Udom, and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The Council also received a report on the issue of refund requested by states who repaired federal roads under the past administration. A briefing by both the Federal Ministry of Works and the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation disclosed that 13 states have fully complied with the reimbursement requirements, eight states partially complied and 21 states with no compliance with federal reimbursement requirements.

The Buhari administration will be exploring options to address the problem.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture also briefed the Council on its policy direction so far. The Council which meets monthly was attended by state governors and several top officials from the federal and state governments.

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