Anezi Okoro’s book ‘One Week One Trouble’ clearly documents the current Paris bailout story. Within a few weeks, the governor and the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami were scrambling to pay the $418 million.
Malami said the governors have no basis to complain about the withdrawal of compensation paid by the Paris Club to their hired consultants.
He also said that the governors took steps to pay the consultants and later decided to stop paying while asking for out-of-court arbitration when the matter was dragged to court.
This, according to him, prompted him to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to pay the bill, which was sent to the AGF office for legal opinion.
But the governor last Wednesday, explained the statements given to Malami, that they do not have any basis to reject the withdrawal of $418 million in Paris Club compensation, as selfishness and fraud.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi disclosed this on Wednesday after the conference held at the Presidential Villa.
Reading the statement after the meeting, Fayemi promised that the governor would pursue the matter at the highest court of the land.
The Paris Club became popular in Nigeria in 2005 when the ‘Club’ decided that the federal government’s economic reforms were too extreme and focused on canceling 60 percent of the country’s $30bn debt.
Between 1995 and 2002, before the debt was removed, the federal government had an agreement with the state governments to withdraw some money from the federal government to pay the debt.
When they finally reached an agreement with the conference in October 2005, some of the states that were accused of overburdening applied for compensation.
In December 2016, the federal government finally agreed to reimburse the states but in three installments.
The controversy came when some consultants demanded money for their work and prepared to pay this fee, which the governor dismissed. According to them, there are many exclusions from the law of the state, and another exclusion will declare destruction.
Recall that 36 states of the federal government in April this year have warned the federal government not to destroy the money collected from the 774 local councils under the accusation that they are not paying rent. case involving the $418 million London/Paris Club refund.
But there is something new that happened in the movie. Another twist in the story emerged over the weekend as officials working on the London and Paris Club compensation for state and local governments on Saturday alleged that the governors demanded and received a sum of $100 million from and consulting fees to conduct elections in certain states.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Chief Counsel, Hon. Ned Nwoko, alleged that when he applied for $300 million as a consultancy fee, the state governor wanted 50 percent of it to be paid before it would be honored.
He said the former president of the conference explained to him that the money was needed to file for elections in Bauchi, Ekiti and Ondo states.
According to him, the Ministry of Justice intervened and the governor later received a sum of $100 million.
Nwoko disclosed that the money used in his office is $68 million to pay for the last work done for the state and not $418 million which is in the public domain.
He said that from the $300 million bill that was originally set, the company gave a huge discount, noting that the experts had nothing to do with $418 million, which he said must have been wrong. .
He denied Malami any wrongdoing, saying the minister was only trying to ensure that the law was obeyed.
Nwoko said that although he was initially hired by all the federal governments to ensure that they were paid, the NGF later extended his work to cover the states because of the success of the councils. is finally happening and the federal government has agreed to start a bailout. in the year 2016.
He explained: “The federal government and the refund paid into the account given by the state governor for receiving the refund of the state. The governors also set up an account to receive refunds from local governments.
“The first partial refund to state and local governments, the federal government wrongly paid NGF consulting fees. The amount of advice paid to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is $86.5m and 19.4 billion naira.
“While we were trying to recover the money for the benefit of the state and local governments, Governor Yari Abubakar came up with a similar scheme to destroy the advisory fund. As recently as 2016 NGF in his letter to the Accountant General of the Federation dated June 22, 2016. [SHOW DOC] said he had appointed counsel.
“During the conflict at one point during my many meetings with Governor Yari Abubakar, I told him about the irrational desire to fund $86.5mUSD and N19.4 billion. He said it was not for him personally but he needed it for the election in Bauchi, Ekiti and Ondo.
“Also, it should be remembered how some of these funds found their way to some of the chairmen of the National Assembly at that time. The EFCC can confiscate and recover some of the money seized by the NGF.
“Many of these frauds are still under investigation as well as civil and criminal cases including our action against NGF and the Federal Government in Suit No, FHC/ABJ/CS/148/2017.”
Nwoko alleged that the governors of the states have dropped the compensation amount required for their local governments except for five states including Delta, Bauchi, Kwara, Benue, Ondo, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Similarly, the governors’ conference has pushed back, denying allegations that they received $100m or any other money from Nwoko to facilitate elections in any state.
The Director of Media and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, in a statement, said that if Nwoko is sure of his truth, he will be free to go to the relevant authorities to bring everyone or people and all. conspirators (including himself) who were accused of being involved in siphoning off public funds for campaign funds.
He said: “The NGF says clearly that it has never contributed or received USD$100m or any other money from NED Nwoko to support elections in any state.
“Perhaps, allaying our fears and that of the public that the AGF has abandoned its role as public defender and trustee and become a staunch supporter of the councilors now appears in NED NWOKO’s press release where he praised the work of the AGF body explains. it seems inevitable.
“NED cannot say that the ombudsmen have no responsibility to investigate their case, when the AGF has, despite public complaints, given the strongest and worst measures to campaign for prompt payment of said amount.
“The AGF has announced and released more than half a dozen papers showing why consultants should be paid directly. Not even NED lawyers would have done well.
Nwoko was also accused by the governor’s party of distorting and obscuring the facts and legal issues in the dispute by putting out baseless and untrue lies.
Barkindo said that the truth is that it will always be: whether the declarations of those responsible for the law are valid and legitimate under the law and whether any case that is the subject of an appeal the wait can be supported or killed as the current advisors are trying to do.
According to him, If the two questions are answered in the negative, it does not matter if the contracts that lead to the statement is a public servant, past or present a.
As the story continues, experts are wondering where Nigerian interests lie in this conflict.