The Federal Government has promised to refund state governments all monies so far deducted from their accounts to meet London Paris Club obligations.
Immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Aminu Tambuwal, disclosed this in a communique after an emergency meeting on Tuesday night.
According to a communique signed by Governor Tambuwal, at the end of the emergency, Federal Government granted the governors’ request to immediately stop further deductions from states’ accounts.
The NGF is an umbrella body for the 36 governors in the country.
Governors had in November last year kicked against the payment of $418 million and the promissory notes issued to the Paris Club consultants by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office and vowed to continue to explore all legal channels available to them in ensuring that resources belonging to states are not unjustly or illegally paid to a few in the guise of consultancies.
The issue of Paris Club obligations and deductions have been a major cause of disagreement between the federal and state governments in recent time.
The debts had accrued from court judgments awarding the creditors, who claimed to be “consultants” and “contractors” to the states and local governments, various sums of money which currently stand at $418 million.
Some of the creditors claimed to have earned their shares of the money through ‘consultancy services’ of helping state and local governments to recover funds over-deducted by the Federal Government from their allocations between 1995 and 2002 to service the London Club and Paris Club loans.
A Federal High Court Abuja division had in 2021 dismissed an application by the attorney generals of the 36 states of the federation seeking an order to permanently restrain the Federal Government from deducting monies accruing to the state over the $418 million Paris Club refund.
The Forum had also disagreed with the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the payment of consultants for the Paris Club refund, calling such payments illegal.
But Malami had insisted that the governors’ forum agreed on the engagement of consultants to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club.
Meanwhile, members of the forum has elected Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and Governor of Oyo State Seyi Makinde as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.
Governor Abdulrahman succeeded Tambuwal, who had acted since last year. Immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was substantive chairman until his second term in office ended last year.
•ACF, GAMJI, olawepo-Hashim hail, Kwara gov pledges to uphold ideals of NGF
Governor AbdulRazaq has pledged to uphold the ideals and vision of the forum.
In a personal statement issued in Ilorin, he thanked his colleagues for the confidence reposed.
“The significance and the huge responsibilities of this office are not lost on me.
“I hereby pledge to uphold the ideals and vision of the NGF whilst recognising and appreciating the eminent track record of the institution as a most credible, authoritative, influential and effective inter-party platform for consensus building and peaceful resolution and advancement of pan-Nigeria goals, interests and aspirations,” the statement read in part.
“l will ensure regular consultation with all members in order to arrive at consensus on all issues for the advancement and promotion of national interest, peace, progress and stability of the nation.
“As a body, we will also continue our tradition of maintaining a close and cordial relationship with His Excellency the President, the National Assembly, all Federal and State institutions, the business community, the civil society, media and development partners…” he said.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Kwara State chapter, hailed his emergence as well-deserved.
Its statement issued by the state chairman, Dr. Mohammed Ghali Alaaya, said he earned the role by dint of hard work, commitment and selfless sacrifice towards the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general election at the federal level and in Kwara State.
He expressed delight that AbdulRazaq has continued to make the state proud amongst comity of states in the country.
The Gamji Members Association (GAMA), Kwara State chapter, in a joint statement by its state President General, Tunde Akanbi and the Director of Publicity, Abdullahi Olesin noted that “this positive development has, once again, made Kwara to be on the front burner when it comes to the affairs of our dear nation- Nigeria.”
Similarly, APC chieftain and a former presidential candidate, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim, in a statement from his media office in Abuja explained that his emergence, coming on the heels of his recent re-election and few days to his inauguration for a second term in office, has confirmed his sterling leadership qualities, which has propelled his performance as Kwara governor in the last four years.
He added that “for a long time, Governor Abdulrazaq has been known as one not only endowed with extraordinary leadership traits, but a Nigerian of repute whose sterling qualities, managerial skills and humility in the art of governance, stand him out among others.”
According to him, “I am proud to state that your humility and exemplary life of service have recommended you to your colleague governors who have found you worthy to be first amongst equals as Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum.”
While noting the governor’s promise to ensure regular consultation with his colleagues to build consensus, Olawepo-Hashim enjoined the governors, irrespective of party affiliations, to support and rally round the new chairman in this task of building the nation.
He prayed that while the governor has pledged to uphold the ideals and vision of the NGF as a most credible, authoritative, influential and effective inter-party platform for consensus building and peaceful resolution, and advancement of pan-Nigeria goals, God Almighty will continuously protect him and grant him wisdom to discharge his responsibilities.
He equally rejoiced with the good people of Kwara State for the remarkable achievement and expressed confidence that the governor will use his new position for the good of the country.