PAUL OMOKUVIE, Bauchi
Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, has disclosed that the state government received over N2 trillion from May 2007 to May 2019 from the federal government.
Mohammed stated this at the inauguration of a panel to recover all assets, funds, and properties allegedly stolen by the two former administrations before him, at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Bauchi on Friday.
He said that his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar, received over N400 billion in the four years as governor.
“I am not unaware of the debate and passionate conversation, some perhaps, negative, on why we set up this committee. This fact may suffice to allay the fears of anybody, that from May 2007 to May 2019, Bauchi state received more than N2 trillion from the federation account in the form of allocation and intervention.
“And between 2015 to 2019 alone, the state’s total revenue collection stood at over N400 billion. The most rudimentary audit will show how these funds were scandalously mismanaged with little or nothing to show for it.
“Bauchi State as we speak has more than 1.3 million children out of school and another 1.3 million unemployed. Our resources were clearly diverted or outrightly squandered while our citizens grappled with poverty and squalor.”
The governor said that recent statistics published by some newspapers in Nigeria showed that out of eight states in the country with a total percentage of about 4,000% debt, Bauchi State alone, has a combined profile of 783% domestic and 32% external debts pointing out that “translate this in Naira and Kobo, our state has a total debt profile of N150 billion.”
“For example, the first four years of the Buhari administration, the state government got N47 billion as bailouts from the Federal government mainly to offset salaries, gratuities and pensions. We equally got N17 billion as Paris Club Refunds amounting to N62 billion as intervention apart from the statutory federal government monthly allocation.
“It is embarrassing today, that we have N27 billion unpaid gratuities and pensions; it is sad, very sad indeed. If this state of financial profligacy is allowed to go unchecked, we may wake up one day to have our state reduced to a status of glorified or amplified local government. These glaring facts, clearly showed how serious the business of government in Bauchi State was conducted with reckless abandon, corruption and impunity.”
He said that no responsible government will bear that which he pointed out is pushing the state farther away into abject poverty, serious abandonment and decay.
He assured that the exercise was not a witch hunt and not meant to settle scores either “but meant to recover the misappropriated commonwealth and reset the baton, so that integrity, probity and accountability will henceforth remain the guiding principles as well as article of faith in the conduct of government business.”
He charged the members of the committee to be focused and resourceful in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities, adding that the government has high hopes in their ability to perform creditably.
Mohammed noted that the task of the committee was enormous and undoubtedly challenging, calling on them to be focused, unemotional and objective in carrying out their assignment with the fear of God.
He called on the people of the state to cooperate with the committee by providing them with meaningful inputs that would form part of their reports.
In his response on behalf of the other 16 members, the Chairman of the panel, Isa, Hamma Misau, promised that they would discharge their responsibilities with the fear of God, adding that they would not be out to witch hunt or embarrass anybody or work outside the law.
“Even the previous administrations set a similar committee, so they don’t have any reason to say that it is a witch hunt. The government of Isa Yuguda in 2007, set up a similar committee and the past administration did the same, so nobody should deceive you and say that it is a witch hunt.
“We will do our best to recover all the assets and funds belonging to this government,” the former Senate Committee Chairman on Police Affairs said.