By Jonathan Ugbal
Information reaching CrossRiverWatch suggests that the federal government has paid allocations for the month of June 2019 directly into the accounts of the 18 local government areas of the State.
The accounts are said to have been almost empty for over a decade following the establishment of the Joint State and Local Governments Account JAAC.
Sources say the least a local government got was over N145 million for the month.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that, since the state does not have constitutionally elected chairmen in place, banks have been directed by the governor to approach the Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGAs) with documents to regularize their signatures. The HOLGAs are the most senior civil servants at the local government levels with roles similar to those of the Head of Service. They are currently filling the documents.
The HOLGAs are said to have been cautious when the money was paid last week and the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade having discovered that he cannot withdraw the said funds, has called them for a meeting.
CrossRiverWatch also learnt from a source in the bank who did not want to be named that, the banks have a standing order from the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, not to honor cheques signed by anyone other than an elected LG Chairman. It was not clear at press time how the governor wants to beat that hurdle.
Following the directives of the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), local governments allocations were from June 1, 2019 paid into their accounts with the daily maximum withdrawal pegged at N500,000.
Payments to contractors and other financial obligations are expected to be electronic in order to leave a trail that can be easily tracked.
The Governors have kicked against the guidlines and matters are pending before Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court.
The NFIU directive has been widely welcomed by the public and seen as a step to free local governments from the control of Governors and ensure that allocations to that tier of government can revive governance at the local level.
Cross River State has been without elected representatives at the local government level since December 2016 with former Governors Clement Ebri, Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke keeping mum over the issue despite calls by stakeholders to conduct elections.
More details later…
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