Debtor states’ share of NLNG dividend seized by banks – Yari

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The Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari, has said that banks have withheld the share of the $2.1bn Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company’s dividend due to some states of the federation.

Yari, told State House correspondents shortly after meeting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, that states whose shares of the NLNG funds were confiscated by the banks were debtor-states.

“No money is released yet, but I think the NLNG money that was given some states, some states’ share was taken by the banks because it was due for them to make certain loan repayment. Therefore, automatically, that had to go there.

“But I think the CBN governor is negotiating with the banks on how we are going to share it. Now, we have agreed that these bailout or intervention funds are coming so that they will know the purpose they were made for the states – to rescue them and ensure that they pay the staff salaries of their respective states.”

Also, the House of Representatives on Wednesday expressed shock over the N4bn debt some state governments owe the West African Examinations Council.

In a resolution in Abuja, the House advised the governors of the affected states to pay the money urgently and avoid placing the future of their students at risk.

The regional examination body had threatened to withhold the results of students from 19 states over the unpaid N4bn debt.

The names of the states have not been disclosed.

A member from Ebonyi State, Linus Okorie, who brought the issue before the House under matters of urgent public importance, said about “600,000” students were affected.

Okorie said the debt covered students who sat for the 2014 May-June examinations and the 2015 May-June examinations.

“The House is urging the governors of these states to pay the debt because of the urgency involved”, the resolution stated.

A member from Rivers State, Betty Apiafi, had suggested that the Federal Ministry of Education should intervene by liaising with the Federal Ministry of Finance “to see how they can get some commitment from the affected states.”

However, lawmakers rejected the proposal and stuck to the decision to ask the governors to pay the money.

Yari said the inability of some state governments to ascertain the total amount of money involved was responsible for their current face-off with the West African Examinations Council.

WAEC had threatened to withhold results of candidates in 19 states who wrote the May/June 2015 WASSCE, following unpaid examination fees by the state governments.

He said there was the need for some of the affected states to verify the figure before payment.

The governor said discussion would be held with WAEC, with a view to resolving the impasse.

“You see, including my own state, we are in that trouble. But the reason we are in that trouble is because we cannot ascertain the exact figure, which one is for the public and which one is for the private. It is mixed up.

“Some state governments need to verify between WAEC and their ministries of education and other departments of education. So, that’s why some states cannot pay.

“And yes, of course, some states are giving free education. Those WAEC monies are not being paid by the parents. It is being sponsored by the government, like ours.

“The first primary to be charged, I think, is the salary. If the states cannot pay salaries, how much more about other secondary expenses? Therefore, there is no surprise that some states cannot do that– to pay their dues.

“But I think it’s something that we will discuss with some of the governors concerned and WAEC, so that we will be able to know how this thing should not happen again because of the future of our children.”

On the bailout being planned for states by the Federal Government, Yari said the gesture would prevent some states from becoming failed states.

He said the Federal Government could not fold its hands while states would be in trouble.

“The actual thing is that we have a problem and there is no two ways about it. The Federal Government has to come to the rescue of the states or else, you have a failed state. The Federal Government cannot fold its arms and the states will be in trouble,” he said.

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