The present administration has so far reimbursed state governments to the tune of N447 billion for expenses incurred on Federal Government projects, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said.
Addressing correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, he said the release was the first tranche of such reimbursement.
The minister announced that following the money already released to the affected states, the council in its Wednesday’s sitting approved the sum of N18 billion refund for Yobe State out of the N20 billion bill it submitted.
Mohammed gave a breakdown of the amounts of such reimbursement by some of the states, stressing that the reimbursement was for projects implemented before the coming of the present administration.
According to him, most the beneficiaries are opposition states, indicating that the Buhari’s administration does not discriminate contrary to claims in some quarters.
He said: “I think it’s important to say that, well it’s true that we’re just reporting this particular memo, which is the refund being sought by Yobe State government; Yobe State government is asking for the sum of N18,663,843,109 as reimbursement for five federal roads, which they rehabilitated or constructed.
“A committee was set up to inspect the claim, they were actually found to be true. They reviewed the N20 billion they asked for and certified N18 billion as refund due to Yobe State for undertaking the construction/rehabilitation of these federal roads on behalf of federal government.
“But this is not the first time. We have, since 2015, made refunds to about 24 states. If my records are correct and I want to put on record here that but for the benevolence of this administration, many states would have sunk under.
“You will remember that by the time we came in, about 27 states of the federation were unable to pay salaries, they owed salaries and could not pay. It took this Federal Government to really bail many of them out so they could pay not only salaries, but also they could pay the arrears.
“When the price of crude crashed, this same government gave each state what is called a bailout and some of the states today that complain that they’ve never benefited from the federal government, especially the PDP states, are the ones that have taken the lion share of this reimbursement.
“The records I have here say that Akwa Ibom got N61 billion from this Federal Government for works done on behalf of the government and especially before we came in. Rivers had upwards of N100 billion. But we show that for this administration, it does not matter whether you are PDP or APC or you’re Labour or you’re APGA. This administration looks at you as a Nigerian and when largesse are being distributed, it does not favour you just because you are from APC state or from a friendly state.
“The first tranche of these reimbursements, about N477 billion, was refunded to many states; Edo got N8 billion; Lagos got N106 billion; Niger, N333 million; Ogun, N37 billion; Delta N56 billion; Ebonyi, N10 billion; Enugu N12 billion; Jigawa N10 billion; Ekiti, N10 billion and this was the first tranche.
“Second tranche and the last tranche, I think if I remember, I think it’s Yobe and two other states that are supposed to be the next batch.
“We have Yobe, which has gotten its N18 billion today for works that they undertook on behalf of the Federal Government.”
He also affirmed that most of the states would have gone down but for the bailout funds made available to them by the administration.
While noting that the reimbursements were for the work implemented in the previous administration, he said: “It was actually as a result of this reforms we’re making that we said henceforth, you cannot take on your own federal responsibilities.”