Group lambasts Gov Yari for Zamfara economic woes

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BY IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH

Shocked by the alarming scope of economic dangers and its potential
threat to the economic development of the state, the Zamfara Budget
Working Group (ZBWG) has asserted that the monthly federal
allocation is being directed towards servicing both foreign and local
debt borrowed by the present administration which the group said the
actors owe Zamfara people an explanation to some key economic issues.

According to a press release signed by the group’s chairman, Alhaji
Bacheri S. Fulani, looking at the proportionate sharing, Zamfara State’s
monthly federal allocation is being used for servicing both foreign
and domestic debts, saying that Zamfara people may wish to know the
actual debt profile of the state as at October 2014.

 

He further said
that the citizens and economic actors may know where to key in to
support the state out of support the state out of these economic woes
that is threatening the economic progress of the state.

Fulani said if diversification of economic sources of both state and federal government remains the answer to these current economic crises facing the country as claimed by the coordinating minister of Nigeria’s economy, Dr. Ngozi Iweala Okonjo, there is no doubt that agriculture and solid minerals development is the only option to this economic crises in Zamfara, adding that both the executive arm of government and the legislature need to wake up from their deep slumber to revive mechanized agriculture and create an
avenue for the state government to have a stake in the solid minerals
funds accruing annually.

But just recently, the Zamfara chapter of the Northern Assembly opened
a can of worms that Governor Abdulazeez Yari is planning a
supplementary budget for the 2015 election through the controversial
sales of state owned shares which the assembly noted that the
Governor must be check mated by the patriotic Zamfara people before it
becomes too late.

The Assembly is one of the few agencies that are outspoken, questioning some of the anti peoples programs and policies of Governor Yari. The group said that there is an attempt to sell the 19m unit of shares jointly owned by the state and fourteen local governments. It challenged the state government led by Yari to open up its financial transactions for public accountability, noting that the state resources have been diverted to road construction only.

“If the government for instance is selling these shares to build an
international airport or expand Gusau Water Barrage to the capacity of
producing 200m gallons of water per day no responsible Zamfara person
can complain because the impact of the projects are visible but when
the government failed to offer the citizens explanation on some of its
actions, then you expect nothing than reaction of this nature”.

It said that when the Governor has failed to use the state resources to pay workers well to boost their morals, surely one should not expect service delivery in all the component parts for sustainable development.
There are a lot of questions arising from the economic mismanagement
than answers by the present administration, said an economic scientist.

He also pointed out that when Governor Yari took over the reigns of
power from Shinkafi in 2011, he told the whole world that he inherited
a liability of N17 billion borrowed from capita market and another N26
billion owed to contractors; but Shinkafi kept refuting the allegations,
saying that he left a liability of only N7 billion. He challenged any
contractor who executed projects during his tenure that was not paid
if his or her work was acceptable, noting that the campaign ground
will expose the truth as the truth is honourable.

The Zamfara Budget Working Group explained that states like Lagos,
Katsina, Edo, Kwara and host of others presented their 2015 proposed
budgets and internal austerity measures to be adopted to curtail the
unexpected shortfalls in the monthly federal allocation. The group
recalled that on the 18th of December 2014, the coordinating minister
of Nigeria economy, Dr. Ngozi Eweala Okonjo, presented the 2015
proposed budget on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan to the two
chambers of the National Assembly.

She gave details of the measures put in place by the federal
government to look for other alternative sources of revenue to fund the 2015
budget and ensure that the nation’s economy remains stabilized with or without improvement in the nation’s oil revenue.

The Zamfara Budget Working Group said the Nigeria economic crises vis-à-vis the continued collapse in the oil sector and time limit for the
commencement of the 2015 political campaign by the legislators in the
state inform the need for effective scrutiny of the budget document to be
presented at the floor of the state House of Assembly by the executive
arms of government. These and many more have forced the Zamfara Budget
Working Group to raise five fundamental questions to both the
executive and legislative arms of government for clarification thus:

·        Considering the fact the there are less than 60 days to the
commencement of the nation’s 2015 general elections, how sincere are
the members of the executive arms of government that the 2015 proposed
budget is not an election budget but rather budget that will be used
to consolidate on the existing developmental projects provided to the
citizens at the same time address the current economic realities faced
by the state?

·        How optimistic are members of the legislative arms of government
that the proposed 2015 budget document to be presented by the
executive arms will be given the thorough scrutiny it deserved
especially with the commitment by the House leadership that a one day
public hearing in respect of the 2015 proposed budget will be held to
enable  members of civil  society, Ngo’s and indeed interested
citizens to have a stake in the formulation of the 2015 budget and
make sure that the budget has been signed as budget of reality?

·        What are the internal economic strategies or rather austerity
measures that are going to be adopted by the state government to
further strengthen the state economy and boost the internally
generated revenue (IGR) base from 3 billion in 2013 to an appreciate
level of economic reality?

·        If diversification of the economic sources of both the state and
federal governments remain the answer to the current economic crises
facing the country, no doubt agriculture and solid minerals
development are the keys to opening up Zamfara’s economy. What are the steps taken by both the executive and legislative arms of government to
revive mechanized agriculture and create a space for the state
government to have a stake in the solid minerals funds accrued from
the state annually?

·        Looking at the proportionate shares of Zamfara State monthly
federal allocation is being used to service both the foreign and
domestic debt, Zamfara people may wish to know the actual debt profile of the state as at October 2014 so that citizens and indeed state
actors may know where to key in to support the state out of this
economic mess?

But economic experts are wondering how Zamfara’s resources is been blown to private purses. In early 2012, Governor Yari set up what he called
rationalization committee to sanitize that state civil service. The Ahmad Zabarama committee reportedly sacked over 14,000 civil servants in the state.

When he presented the report to Governor Yari at the chamber of the
Government House, Zabarama told the Governor the state supposed to be
receiving N196 million every month as a result of retrenchment of over
14,000 civil servants. He went further to tell the Governor that
investigation carried out by the committee revealed that the N196
million does not enter into the state government coffers, saying that
the money is being shared by top government officials and nothing has
been done up till now.

Again, there were controversies over the retrenchment of the workers
that the state government constituted another committee believing that
most workers were sacked unjustly. Some were recalled yet they have
not been paid a single kobo for almost three years. Not only that
recently all the state nurses and midwifes were sacked by the present
administration for going on strike for their rights. The Governor
claimed that he was not even aware that the nurses and midwifes
embarked on strike because they did not inform him before embarking on
strike. To some it was a good omen as they got works in Sokoto, Kebbi
states etc with good salaries.

Even the state government scrapped the state skills acquisition
program and stopped paying salaries of the instructors and N5,000
allowances of the apprentices yet the government has avenue s to save
money but it continued to borrow from the capital markey. Then where
are all these money going.

An economic expert who spoke to DESERT HERALD said there is furore
over what he described as a government of waste, saying that there are
every indication that at the end of Governor Yari’s administration, he
may leave more liabilities than any government in the history of
Zamfara State.

The actors need to close all the loop holes affecting Zamfara’s economic
development. Every day, millions of naira is being stolen without any
effort to recover the missing money. It is there for very imperative
to scrutinize all the campaign promises of those who pretend to be the
economic messiah they can swear at the campaign ground that if their
stated mission: to rescue Zamfara State from doldrums to decay, run
financial transparent and disciplined government, may Allah not grant
their ambition to succeed.

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