Amidst questions over listed federal projects and the timing of approval 48 hours to the gubernatorial elections in Kogi State, the Senate on Wednesday approved a promissory note issuance in the sum of N10.069 billion for Kogi State Government for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
Led by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, the opposition kicked against the timing of the approval which many see as ploy to release funds for Governor Yahaya Bello to get an upper hand in Saturday’s election.
Said Abaribe, “Who does not know that on Saturday, there is going to be an election in Kogi and money is going there today.
“What I do not want is misuse of the fund for another purpose because it is for the people of Kogi.
He said he had the mandate of the minority in the Senate to suggest that the approval be shifted to one week after the election.
Abaribe said that the money, if approved, might not be used for the overall interest of Kogi, adding that the time for the approval was not right.
The approval is sequel to the presentation and consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Recall that President Buhari, in a letter written two weeks ago to the Senate, had requested for an approval for the refund to be made to the Kogi State Government.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Ordia, said “the approved sum is in Capital Expenditure which has to do with refund to the State Government for monies spent in the execution of Federal Government Projects in the state.”
According to the lawmaker, key officials of the state government were invited to brief the committee in the course of its legislative work.
Ordia further disclosed that the committee also assessed all submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, alongside documents from the Bureau of Public Procurement and Kogi State Government.
The Committee in its report stated that it undertook an oversight visit to Kogi State to assess the projects and maintained that the said projects met the required standard by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
The projects inspected by the Committee are: reconstruction of Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, reconstruction of Idah-Onyedega road, and dualization of Lokoja-Ganaja road.
Other executed federal projects are: reconstruction of three-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of four-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, and reconstruction of Iyamoje-Igagun-Ifeolu-Kptun-Ponyan-Jegede road.l
The committee, in its findings, stated that “inspections were carried out by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing,” adding that Kogi State has completed all the said projects and paid all contractors that executed them.
Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North), while commending the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, said “Kogi has done very well. This should be approved so as to show other governments to take a cue.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan explained that Kogi State was entitled to be paid all monies spent on the execution of Federal Government projects in the state.
According to Lawan, Kogi State was denied an approval for refund while 24 state governments received an approval under the Eight Senate.
“Kogi State applied for this refund in the last Senate. All the States that applied were approved here by the last Senate.
“Now as the ninth Senate, we have seen the necessity and are doing justice. We have done justice to others, and we have to do justice to Kogi State. When it is done is not the matter.”
The Senate eventually approved President Buhari’s request for a refund to Kogi State government after a voice vote called by the Senate President.
“Gods time is always the best, Kogi was not approved then, and the 9th senate has seen the necessity.
“We have done justice to other states, let us do justice to Kogi state,” Lawan said.
After his remark, Lawan consequently put a voice vote for the approval of the recommendations of the committee.
The senate unanimously voiced its affirmation for the vote.
But Senator Uche Ekwenife (PDP Anambra), in a point of order said it was important that he that “seeks equity, must do equity’’.
Ekwunife said states like Enugu, Anambra and Imo, were yet to be refunded monies spent on execution of Federal Government projects in their states.
She was advised by the senate president that states who were yet to be refunded should apply properly via the right channel, and that is the Federal Government.