By Akanimo Sampson
All does not seem to be well with the Federal Government at the moment financially. Already, 35 states of the federation that benefitted from a generous aid deal tagged bail-out by Abuja are now to literally squeeze blood out of stone to pay back.
With the way government is going about it, the bail-out was not a dash after all. States that went on a reckless spending frenzy will be facing the music the hard way. Government has empanelled a tough committee for the recovery of the huge N614 billion. The money was however given when most of the states could not pay workers’ salary.
The affected states apart, Abuja is also bracing to prosecute those linked with the contract that resulted in the judgment of the United Kingdom’s Business and Property Courts (the Commercial Court), which awarded over $9.00 billion cumulatively against Nigeria in favour of a private firm, Process & Industrial Developments Limited.
Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made this public on Thursday, as the company had earlier in the week vowed to target Nigeria’s property in the UK to recover the judgment award.
Malami, who spoke while unveiling his agenda as he returned to the Ministry of Justice after his inauguration on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari, questioned the sincerity of those behind the contract awarded in 2010, claiming that it formed part of the inglorious legacies of past administrations that the present government is grappling with.
While pointing out that henceforth, contract of certain categories will be vetted by the Federal Ministry of Justice before it is signed by any federal government agency, Malami also expressed worry about the impact of public corruption and the connivance of financial institutions in the thriving crime of illicit finance flow out of the country, insisting that henceforth, financial institutions, linked with financial crimes, will be prosecuted along with the culprits.
In the mean time, Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed, who spoke on the bail-out recovery panel at the end of the National Economic Council meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had presented an update to the Council on the budget support facility.
With 35 states benefiting from the facility, she said each state is to pay back equivalent of N175 billion.
‘’Council agreed to constitute a committee of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to finalize modalities for repayment’’, the minister said and further revealed that she updated the Council on the activities of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account and other special accounts of the federation.
Ahmed who said the committee requested for extension of time to finalise and present its report during next meeting of the Council, also made a presentation on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Medium Term Strategy Paper. She said the presentation was to get inputs and recommendation from the Council for further presentation to the Federal Executive Council for approval and implementation.