- Panic Spreads In Yobe, Benue, Plateau Others
- Gaidam, Suswam, Nyako Jittery Over Profligacy, Empty Treasury
- Petition of Wanton Mismanagement Floods EFCC
By COMFORT ONCHE
With the worrisome level of profligacy, misappropriation of funds and outright corruption reigning in most states of the federation, discerning analysts had for long been raising the alarm that the bubble might burst sooner than later. Such folks were however dismissed by officialdom as “busy bodies” who were supposedly “crying wolf where there was none”.
At long last, the chickens are coming home to roost, what with a sizeable number of states reportedly finding it very tough to honour their basic obligations, including payment of civil servants’ salaries and execution of infrastructural projects. As shocking as this may sound, the situation in some states such as Yobe, Borno, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Edo, Adamawa, Ogun, Enugu, Kogi and Cross River has become critical, according to the Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Dropping the bombshell penultimate Thursday, the upper legislative chamber declared that while the above-mentioned States were in a “critical” financial situation, Kano, Sokoto, Niger, Osun, Zamfara and Katsina States were also in “distress”. On their part, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Oyo, Gombe, Rivers and Bayelsa were described as financially “unhealthy” while Lagos, Imo, Kwara, and Delta States were adjudged to be in “tolerable” financial condition. Out of the 36 States of Nigeria, only Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, and Jigawa are believed to be financially healthy.
What that means is that with the exception of Jigawa, all the 19 States of Northern Nigeria are in terrible financial conditions, with Yobe, Borno, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Kaduna and Adamawa bearing the dubious distinction of being the worst hit by the financial “tsunami”. Equally worrisome is the fact that most of these distressed states have earned notoriety in recent times over the squandermania and/or “lootocracy” of their old and/or serving chief executives. For instance, the immediate past governor of Nasarawa and Gombe States, both of which the Senate branded as financially unhealthy, were recently nabbed and put on trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption involving billions of naira. Yobe, Benue, Borno, Kano, Adamawa and such other Northern States have also earned notoriety in recent times due to the “prodigal son”–like rulership style of their respective governors.
In fact, readers of this weekly newspaper and its sister publication, DESERT HERALD monthly magazine, may recall that we have had cause to publish a series of investigative stories exposing the financial chicanery and outright treasury looting in many of these states.
Interestingly, the indomitable socio-political group called Yobe Awareness Forum has for many years now been chronicling the mind-boggling treasury robbery masquerading as governance in Yobe, even as DESERT HERALD has been consistently reporting the gang-raping of our common wealth in states like Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Borno, etc by past and present “leaders alike”.
Investigation by our correspondent at both the federal ministry of finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that the levels of sleaze and profligacy in many states have ballooned alarmingly to the extent that in a typical month, many state governors have no choice than to borrow from commercial banks at outrageous interest rates “just to pay their workers’ and political appointees’ salaries and allowances”.
According to a CBN official who asked not to be named, the total allowances and salaries being paid by some governors to their aides alone is in the region of billions of naira per month. “You have this odd situation whereby in some of the states, Assistants, Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants, and the rest of them are in their hundreds – some as many as nearly one thousand in a single state. That is aside from commissioners and their own aides and many others” she said,
Another inside source disclosed how hitherto the then Nasarawa State governor, Doma, invariably had to borrow from banks virtually every month just to pay the salaries of civil servants and allowances of his seemingly countless political appointees, simply because “the state allocation from the federal purse is not enough to cater for them”. Surprisingly, the situation has changed for the better to the extent that Nasarawa not only pays the N18,000 minimum but no longer borrows even a kobo from any Bank.
“What happened is that the new governor simply slashed the bloated size of political appointees, even as he stopped payment of bogus allowances and sundry claims that were paid during the old governor’s era. By taking those simple steps, His Excellency has saved Nasarawa billions of naira in one fell swoop, such that even though the state’s share of the monthly federal allocations are less than before (mainly due to crazy deductions-at-source), Nasarawa is now able to meet its primary obligations without resorting to loans of whatever sort”.
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If Nasarawa could afford to thank it’s God or stars for little mercies, its counterparts such as Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kogi, Gombe, Kano and the likes are not that lucky. Classified by the senate as financially “critical” and “distressed” or “unhealthy”, uneasiness, tension and uncertainly pervade these states, the level of profligacy and corruption there has more or less brought them to the verge of bankruptcy.
Incredibly, the governors of the states concerned, notably those of Yobe, Borno, Kano, Benue and Adamawa States, are reportedly either now awarding or preparing to award contracts in the region of billions of naira even when the condition of their treasury is anything but healthy. This is even as the craze for appointment of sundry aides and embarking on seemingly endless foreign trips seem to be the rule rather than the exception.
It is interesting to note that while the Oyo State government is still grappling with the challenges of payment of the minimum wage, members of the Oyo House of Assembly allegedly spent a whopping N121 million just on a two-week trip to London.
In the same vein, Governor Yari of Zamfara State reportedly spent a princely N1 billion through his own brother, Dan Auta, on a Hajj jamboree. His Benue State counterpart, Gabriel Suswam, is also known to funnel billions of naira into inanities such as purchase of gifts and foreign trips.
As evident in the ongoing trial of ex-governor James Ibori, Gbenga Daniel, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Aliyu Doma and Danjuma Goje of Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Nasarawa and Gombe Sates, and as evident in the series of petitions bordering on corruption against the likes of Governors Gaidam, Yari, Nyako, Suswam, etc the “lootocracy” holding across the land is such that the situation in the “critical”, “distressed “and “unhealthy” states may only degenerate.
This, according to observers, may explain why the Senate has mandated its committee on Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and State / LGAs to probe the impending meltdown in the states concerned. An indication of the extent of the Lawmaker’s concern is evident in the suggestion by some senators that some financially distressed states be merged with others. Although Governor Suswam declared through his spokens person, Cletus Akwaya, that merger was not the best option, not a few people think otherwise.
Meanwhile, as the situation remains critical with restiveness and tension brewing across the land, the embattled governors are said to be running from-pillar –to – post looking for possible solutions. “They are relying on the Sovereign Wealth for Fund and the oil windfall expected to be gleaned from the impending removal of fuel subsidy, for their salvation,” said an insider. But the question is, how far can such “solutions” go when the pervading profligacy and corruption continue to reign supreme in Government Houses here and there?
Watch out for the scandalous details in the worst-hit states like Yobe, Benue, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau next week
—– COMING NEXT IN DESERT HERALD —–
EMPEROR SUSWAM ‘COLONISES’ BENUE!
Like the typical politician, Gabriel Suswam waltzed to Govt House Makurdi, Benue State, promising the people heaven and earth. But before Benue people knew what was happening, the lawyer- turned- politician had turned into something else. Like Emperor Nero frolicked while Rome bled, Governor Suswam has been having a field day of sorts while Benue bleeds.
Now, DESERT HERALD in its usual no-hold –barred, investigative and authoritative style, beams its searching on the governor infamously called ” EMPEROR”. Read about the following in our forthcoming exclusive report on Emperor Suswam:
How so-called Benue ”ELDERS” and ”statesmen” are reporting or tedly bribed to white wash Suswam’s image and also intimidate his foes-real and imaginary foes alike;
The forged certificate Scandal that is still rocking his government, and how billions of naira are wasted on foreign trip jamborees, Scandalous gifts and extravagant events;
Commando- like attacks on political opponents as well as sweetheart contract bonanza, including ”leasing” of J.S. Tarka complex in Makurdi.
How he is allegedly Systematically ”colonising” both the Benue Political arena and the treasury alike….
All these and much more are yours for “reading” soon in your weekly treasure, DESERT HERALD now Book your copies in advance !