By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The Cross River state government has recieved Eleven Billion, Three Hundred Million, One Hundred and Thirty Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty One Naira, Twenty Eight Kobo (N11,300,139,741.28) as reimbursement for over-deductions on external debt service.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had earlier approved a total of N522.74 billion to be disbursed to states as claims of over-deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002 on First Line Charge deductions from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
CrossRiverWatch reliably gathered that the first tranche of N153.01 billion has been released to 14 states including Cross River.
State governments had submitted claims of over-deductions for external debt servicing between 1995 and 2002 to the federal government.
During the negotiation of debt cancellation in 2006, states were not carried along so when the governors’ forum met, it was agreed that a consultant be engaged to reconcile the account with Central Bank of Nigeria and Federal Government.
President Buhari then directed that claims be subjected to verification by the Debt Management Office and a team was established and given the mandate to scrutinize claims and reconcile with available records.
A statement by Festus Akanbi, the media aide to the Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, explained that “the brief for the team was also extended to include a review of interim payments made under previous administrations. Work has commenced to resolve each state government’s claim and the exercise is expected to take approximately 12 months. The exercise will be thorough, including a complete reconstruction of records dating back to the period in question,” .
The statement added that in the interim, state governors have continued to appeal for release of payment on the grounds of fairness because some states had already received refunds under previous administrations.
“The federal government has reached a conditional agreement to pay 25% of the amounts claimed subject to a cap of N14.5 billion to any given state. Balances due thereafter, will be revisited when fiscal conditions improve.”
Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Katsina, Lagos and Rivers states topped the list of recipients with the total sum of N14,500,000,000.00 each, with Kaduna coming in a close second with, a total of N14,362,416,363.24.
Borno came next getting, N13,654,138,849.49; followed by Bauchi, N12,792,664,403.93; Benue, N12,749,689,453.61; Sokoto, N11,980,499,096.97; Osun, N11,744,237,793.56; Anambra, N11,386,281,466.35; Edo, N11,329,495,462.04; and Cross River state which got, N11,300,139,741.28.
Others are Kogi, N11,211,573,328.19 and Kebbi, N11,118,149,054.10.
State government officials have been hesitant about commenting on the development as several attempts have been unsuccessful. But some of them who spoke to this reporter under anonymity expressed delight with the development and expressed hopes that the money will be well utilized.
An official in the State Ministry of Finance who said he was not authorized to speak on the matter said that, “I think it is correct that the state has received payment from the Federal government. We are all very delighted and we thank President Buhari for giving states this relief. We were suffocating under lack of funds to execute projects but this will give us some liquidity and we are confident that His Excellency will use the funds judiciously.”