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Naira Rain For Niger Delta States, Others

Naira Rain For Niger Delta States, Others

By Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt

The Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group, NDEBUMOG, is alleging that the six states of the South-South geo-political zone, and some 22 other states of the federation, recently benefitted from a debt payment deductions deal.

NDEBUMOG Co-ordinator, George-Hill Anthony, claimed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday that there was a sharing of the Paris Club Debt Payment Deductions back to states in Nigeria. ''In total, $1.8 billion US dollars (about N213 Billion) was shared to the 28 benefiting (recouping) states in Nigeria'', he said.

Continuing, he added, ''interestingly all the six South-South states in Nigeria benefited from this sharing in the following order:

* Akwa Ibom- $39.9 million Dollars
* Bayelsa- $46 million Dollars
* Cross River- $91.2 million Dollars
* Delta- $ 72.5 million Dollars
* Edo- $18.1 million Dollars
* Rivers- $63.7 million

NDEBUMOG is therefore, demanding for a fiscal caution in the application of these monies. ''Governors in the Niger Delta should not use these billions of Naira for gambling to please their political stooges or to offset the political expenditures they incurred during the last elections, which was fraught with irregularities'', the group said.

According to them, ''as advocates of good governance, we advise the Niger Delta governors to realize that the beginning of their trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies, (after their tenures) is the way they manage these huge funds. Travails of former governors should be a lesson for the new ones''.

In the mean time, NDEBUMOG Regional Accountability Centre is also demanding that the Paris Club Debt Deduction monies shared to the states in the Niger Delta should not be tempered with, or spent by any of the benefiting States until separate (dedicated) accounts specifically for these monies are opened. These would enable bodies like NDEBUMOG to track the usage of such funds.

''It is also necessary to set up a Special Committee(s) to identify public -oriented and Pro-poor line areas where these monies could be used. The States must also carryout a Situational (Impact) Assessment Analysis of previous government projects within areas these monies should be spent by identifying why such projects failed in the past. Social baseline and Gender line disaggregating are also needed before enveloping these funds into sectoral line items. A responsive government must begin to put processes of benchmarking its performance in future through Performance Impact Indicators (PII) and not through random (split) and untidy spending'', they said.

Adding, they said, ''opportunity is therefore here for any Governor in the Niger Delta who wants to emerge among 'sunshine' Governor(s) in the region in the short run to prove his disposition towards fiscal discipline and participatory governance. This will no doubt, push him towards writing his name on gold''.

****

Note: Akanimo Sampson, is the Co-ordinator of Journalists for Niger Delta (JODEL), a media group concerned with the affairs of Nigerria's oil and gas region.

ENDS

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