As central govt plays hide-and-seek over withheld funds
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has again raised an alarm. This time, he accused the Federal Government of being desperate in its bid to take over the state by any means possible.
To drive his point home, he carried his case, as usual, to the public domain. He was furious and burning with anger. He pointedly charged the Federal Government of plans to bring Ekiti State to a halt.
After given several knocks to the Federal Government, he raised many posers. It was at a press conference at the Government House, Ado-Ekiti, that Fayose threw his salvos. He was amused and amazed that the federal allocation and budget support to Ekiti State for January 2017 has been withheld.
Not only that, money initially confirmed paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), top official was later withheld. And more amazing and annoying, no reason given.
Fayose did not stop at that, he took to writing and sent a letter to Federal Ministry of Finance. More than 10 days now, he is still waiting for a response as Minister Kemi Adeosun chose to ignore him. Fayose was sure the minister was acting on instructions. Whose instructions? That is the poser.
Several calls were made to Adeosun, but she chose not to pick any. Similar calls made to other top officials of the ministry were equally not paid heed to. They followed Adeosun’s “exemplary” footsteps.
Fayose smelt political motives in all this. He saw 2018 gubernatorial election in the state playing out. The governor stated his case this way:
“It is unavoidably necessary to bring to the public domain the current harassment, oppression and intimidation of my office and the people of Ekiti State by the Federal Government because of my stand on national issues.
“In the last three, four weeks, after the Federal Allocation Committee meeting, it is sad that Ekiti Federal Allocation for January has not been released.
“Also, the budget support, for which, all states in Nigeria signed an ISPO, Ekiti remains the only state not paid for January. And it seems this is deliberate because, up till now, no excuse or explanation has been given. I have written to the Federal Ministry of Finance, my commissioner has been there, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), nobody is ready to talk to us.
“We contacted the minister, all the directors at the Ministry of Finance everybody is shying away from talking to us for the last 10 days now.
“It is important to note that the allocation and budget support from Abuja is our legitimate right. We have done the needful on our part and nobody from their end has queried the process. I don’t know why the average civil servant in Ekiti State should be made to suffer because of politics, it is not my salary, it is the salary of the Ekiti civil servants.
“Doing this in the name of politics and to destabilise this state is not in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I am reminding them and speaking to Nigerians that the statutory allocation for local governments in Lagos State was stopped then by the Federal Government under former President Olusegun Obasanjon and it was fought until the money was paid. I think we have gone past that kind of episode.
“I want to appeal to the Federal Government, I want to appeal to the Ministry of Finance not to allow themselves to be used to oppress and suffer the civil servants in Ekiti. This state has been running peacefully well supporting Governor Fayose. If this is a political attempt to cause chaos in the state, it will not stand. I will not also be cowed from saying the truth.”
Fayose also alleged that the federal government is using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to frustrate his ongoing projects through alleged frivolous petitions.
All the same, Fayose secured a reliable ally in the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ade Adesanmi. He told the Federal Government to desist forthwith from deploying alleged political machinations/manipulations to fight perceived enemies. He this method wicked because it is “at the expense of innocent civil servants who have families, children and sundry responsibilities to cater for.”
However, this was how the finance ministry played out Fayose: Special Assistant on Media to the Finance Minister, Festus Akanbi responded: “Please reach out to the Director of Press of the finance ministry. I don’t have that information.”
Its Director of Press, Salisu Dambatta: “Such information can only be given by the Director of Press, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF). I suggest you reach out to her.”
Director of Press, AGF Office, Mrs Kene Ofie: “There are 36 states and the FCT and I don’t have records of the monies disbursed to them in my head. So, if you want information on Ekiti State, come formally. Come during office hours. You can come tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. This is not office hours. I work for government and there are procedures.”
Fayose was left with no option than to throw these posers: Why is no one talking or giving explanation from the Federal Government?
Why did they pay, then withhold?
Allocation to state is statutory, why play politics with it?
The governor may not get answers to these. And that is why he believed the actions are meant to cripple his government ahead of 2018 election in Ekiti. Not only that, to stall development projects ongoing in Ekiti.
Already contractors working with the state government are being harassed by the Economoc and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). This led to around of questions:
“Is this meant to discredit President Muhammadu Buhari, who is away or Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is acting?
“Fifth columnists must be at work. Who are they? They must be fished out. Ekiti State is peaceful and must be kept so.”