The Government of Adamawa State has stated that contrary to public belief, the recent bailout funds given to states by the Federal Government from the dividends paid by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, was not meant for the payment of salaries and allowances owed civil servants.
Sani Tukur of PREMIUM TIMES is reporting that the Chief of Staff to Governor Mohammed Jibrilla, Abdulrahman Jimeta, said this in a Radio Gotel Programme monitored in Yola on August 12. He said the state received N3.8 billion as its share of what he called “largesse” from the NLNG dividends and after consultations decided to allocate the funds to areas the government considered more expedient.
The position of the state contradicts the reasons given by governors of the 36 states of the federation who after various meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari requested for the bailout saying without it, states could not offset the back log of salaries owed civil servants.
“I have explained on several occasions because we run an open government, that the money we received from the Federal Government is N3.9 Billion: N2.1 Billion for the state government, while local governments got N1.8 Billion.
“This money is from the LNLG, it’s a bonus because it was not part of the budget or normal allocation for Adamawa state. It’s a simply a largesse that was shared to all the states,” Mr. Abba said.
The official said he was aware that before the money was shared, President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the governors to let the money first go to the federation account, after which it would be shared to all tiers of government based on the formula used in the Federation Account Allocation Committee.
“What President Buhari had wanted was for the money to be taken to the federation account to be shared the normal way funds are shared at the end of each month.
“The governors, however, insisted that they all had serious problems in their states. The problem in Plateau is different from that of Adamawa, also the problem of Lagos is different from that of Kano for instance. “It was, therefore, on that basis that the money was shared.
“The federal government never told any state what to do with its own share. Money was just given for states to go and solve their problems,” he said.
Giving reasons why no amount was allocated for the payment of salaries and allowances owed civil servants – in some cases up to six months – in Adamawa, Mr. Abba said the state has a population of about 3.6 million people and that civil servants are not the only ones who have a right to such funds.
“Of course, it is the right of civil servants to ask for their allowances and salaries, but if we had taken that money to pay civil servants, they would be happy.
“But, contractors being owed by the state government would be angry because they have rendered all sorts of services such as supplies and constructions. The wish of those classes of people is that government use the windfall to pay them.
“There are politicians who were in office during the administrations of governors Nyako, Boni Haruna and Fintiri, who are yet to be paid their severance allowances, including furniture, housing and transportation. Their wish is that the government uses this money to pay them part of their owed allowances.
“Therefore, paying civil servants alone does not mean the problems of Adamawa State have been solved, rather, only civil servants would be happy, though they are the most important segment because they are the ones who work, but, everyone else also have a right on the government of Adamawa state,” he said.
How we disbursed the money
Mr. Abba said after receiving the money, the state government realized that there was the need for Governor Bindow to show the citizens of the state through the media what he has been able to achieve in his first 100 days in office.
He also said Mr. Bindow met an empty treasury to the extent that the state government did not have money to pay for a full tank of petrol for any of its vehicles.
“So, if we had taken that money to pay civil servants, it would be a good thing, but we would have spent 100 days in office without constructing a road, renovating a hospital or school, or anything to show the media because I know that you people would come and try to pass judgment. At times, you even go as far as naming best governors.
“We then decided that the allocation to the 21 local governments should be utilized in such a way that it would affect all the people of the local governments.
“The first thing we did was something that would help the average poor especially in this month of August, and that is to purchase fertilizers; 90 per cent of our people are farmers and a bag of fertilizer costs N8000 now.
“It is a tradition that the government buys fertilizers each year from the state and local governments joint account. We therefore, decided to take N 1billion naira from the windfall to buy fertilizers.
“The Ministry of Agriculture informed us that Adamawa State requires about 25000 metric tonnes of fertilizer. The total cost of the Fertilizers is actually N3.5 Billion. The N1 billion is the take off fund required for the supply,” he said.
The official also said the state uses some of its funds to address its security challenges. Adamawa is one of the three states most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr. Abba said Adamawa spends N45 to N50 million each month on its security outfit, “operation Tsaro,” which is run by the military.
In the interview, he also admitted that the state government spent N200 million on clerics, traditional rulers and others, to pray for security.
“Don’t forget that we also have ‘yan baka’, vigilante, traditional rulers, ward heads, pastors and imams who were all mobilized so that we would continue to have peace. We also do go to clerics for prayers, just as individuals approach clerics for prayers, government also do the same.
“People go to their Imams and pastors for Prayers, the government do the same thing. So, because of the importance of security, we devoted N200 million into it,” he said.
Mr. Abba added that the state government has realized that women in the state die from child birth due to lack of basic items.
He said the government decided to order for 12,000 pieces what he called ‘maternity safety kits’
He said a contractor was mobilized to produce 12,000 bags from Dubai or China which would be stocked with items such as cotton wool, disinfectant, baby oil, towel, baby wear, birth injection, blade, soap and others.
He said the maternity kit would be distributed to all the 21 local government areas in the state.
He added that N100 million belonging to the 21 local governments was allocated for special projects in Yola, the state capital, as according to him, “the capital belongs to all the local governments”.
As for the N2.1 billion belonging to the state government, Mr. Abba said the government mobilized some construction companies such as Triacta, Recon and Tec to carry out the construction of some major roads in the state capital.
He mentioned over 17 road projects which were awarded to these companies at a total cost of over N10 billion.
“All these projects cost over N10 billion and we don’t have any other money apart from the N2.5 billion. What we did is to give them some token amount as take off,” he said.
Mr. Abba said the Yola International Hotel, which has been abandoned for nine years, also received attention from the APC administration.
He said the contractor handling the project was invited and a fresh agreement was signed with him to complete the project in four months at the cost of N1.2 billion.
He said N500 million was given to the contractor out of the windfall.
“We gave him so much money because the remaining part of the job requires that he travels outside the country to purchase items such Chandeliers, Kitchen utensils, doors and windows, as well as the lifter,” he said.
Bullet proof cars for governor
Another expense undertaken by the Adamawa state government from the bailout funds is the purchase of two bullet-proof vehicles for Governor Mohammed Jibrilla at the cost of N95 million.
“We were not selfish at all. Since our coming into office, we bought only two vehicles, which are bullet proof cars for the use of the governor. In fact, we collected the vehicles on loan until we now received this windfall which enables us to pay for them.
“They are brand new vehicles and did not even cost up to a N100 million. We had to buy the vehicles for the governor because the ones bought by Bala Ngillari broke down while the governor was on his way to Mubi. They were also not bullet proof and were bought at over N200 million.
“Before we paid the N95 million cost of the two vehicles, we took them to the Police in Abuja to be tested with guns.
“If we were selfish, the SSG deserves three vehicles, Chief of Staff also deserves three, the deputy governor and his wives deserves vehicles, the governor’s wife deserves vehicles, so also all our lawmakers including the Speaker and other Principal officers.
“But, we did not, we begged the lawmakers to be patient and give us time and allow us to first work for the masses who voted for us. The masses needed to be convinced that we have the intention of coming to their aid,” Mr. Abba said.
The Chief of Staff, however, thanked civil servants in the state for their “understanding” even as he said the APC enjoys the support of workers in Adamawa.
“As for workers, all we can do is to thank them. We had a good understanding, and I am sure most of them voted for APC that is why we even appointed the chairman of NLC in the state into our transition committee. We did that to enable the civil servants have an idea of what we are doing.
“We honestly, do not expect the civil servants to be angry over this decision to expend this windfall the way we did. Adamawa had been trying in the area of payment of salaries; Plateau owes 8 months, Benue 10, but down here, it’s not all the civil servants that are being owed.
“Don’t also forget that May salaries should have been paid before May 29th when we came on board. Civil servants were not paid before we assumed office and there was no money in the treasury to pay them.
“We had to collect a loan of N1.4 billion from Zenith bank to pay the civil servants their salaries. If we had wanted to let them continue to suffer, we would have insisted that they should have been paid by the immediate past administration of Bala Ngillari and since he refused to pay, Bindow would have drawn the line and begin payment of salaries as from the month of June.
“We know government is a continues process, but we also know that Governor Nyako stood his ground and refused to pay two months salaries and went away with it until Fintiri came, took pity on the civil servants and paid them,” he said.