Reps to probe bailout funds to states

THE House of Representatives, on Thursday, resolved to constitute an ad hoc committee to investigate the utilisation of bailout funds and the terms and conditions for the disbursement and the level of compliance by the beneficiary states.

The House further expressed worry that the Public Enlightenment Department of Independent Corrupt Practices Offences Commission (ICPC), in a recent report, indicted several state governments on the non-utilisation of the funds.

It also observed that the lack of utilisation of thee funds for the desired purpose by beneficiary states justified criticisms of persons who were opposed to the Federal Government’s action to release the bailout.

The ad hoc committee is also to ascertain the necessity for further disbursement as being muted by the Federal Government and report back to the House

The House equally frowned on non-utilisation of bailout received from Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries by some states.

The resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent national importance moved by Honourable Karimi Sunday Steve, calling on the House to investigate the disbursement and utilisation of bailout funds to state government.

According to him, since 2015, the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market had taken its toll on allocations from Federation Account to state governments, thereby causing the inability of several states to meet financial obligations, particularly to their employees.

He noted that “the Federal Government, in July 2015, approved the release and disbursement of bailout funds totaling N689.5 billion to 27 states while a further N20 billion was disbursed to Kogi State government four months ago, but noted that many of the states have refused to utilise the funds released for payment of workers’ salaries.”

To this end, he said a recent report by BudgIT, a private sector data company, revealed that as of April 30, 2016, about 13 states still owed workers’ salaries.

According to him, “a recent report by BudgIT revealed that as of April 30, 2016, Abia and Osun states were owing two months’ salary each, whilst Bayelsa State is owing five months.

“Benue, Ekiti, Kwara and Plateau states were owing three months’ salary; Oyo State is reported to owe four months, while Delta, Niger, Nasarawa and Ogun states were all reported to be owing one month each. Kogi State is currently owing over seven months, despite bailout.”

Speaking further, he said “many of the states that have collected bailout from the Federal Government were reported to have stash the funds meant for staff salaries in interest-bearing accounts, while their employees continue to wallow in hunger, poverty and lack.

“Some of these workers have even lost their lives because of their inability to meet daily need.”

When the motion was put to vote by the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, it was unanimously supported by members.