Bombshell in Cross River as Ayade, AAC Cross-fire over State FundsGover

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and the African Action Congress (AAC), the opposition party that is causing some sleepless nights for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in the state, are at loggerheads over the revenue of the state.

Special Assistant to the governor on Media, Emmanuel Ulayi, has taken on the irritating opposition party, challenging it to counter the fact that from May 29, 2015 to date. The state under Ayade’s watch has not taken and utilise any commercial loan.

Daring the State Chairman of AAC, Agba Jalingo, Ulayi challenged him to come up with any bank with a running commercial loan facility taken by the Ayade administration, giving verifiable details in his response.

Returning the salvo, the AAC chief said, ‘’I can only defend what I alleged. I don’t know what Ulayi means by commercial loans. External debt in the state has grown to $167.9 million in 2017, from $114.9 million in 2016. This means Governor Ayade alone incurred additional $53million external debt between 2016 and 2017.

‘’The Debt Management Office (DMO), is the office saddled with keeping records of debts for the national and sub national governments in Nigeria. They have a website that is active with up to date information Every year, the DMO publishes their annual report and statement of account on their website.

‘’The DMO statement of account for 2016 puts the external debt of Cross River at $114.9 million. The statement of account of the DMO for 2017 puts the external debt of Cross River at $167.9 million leaving an increase of $53million between 2016 and 2017.

‘’The DMO further stated that State governments and FCT’s external debts were mainly loans contracted by the Federal Government on behalf of the states and FCT from Multilateral and Bilateral sources. The loans, according to the DMO, were mostly applied by the recipient state governments in financing key projects in various sectors of the sub national economy such as Education, Health, Water Supply, Housing and Sanitation.

‘’In the same 2017 statement of account of the DMO available on their website, Cross River Domestic debt also rose to N125.65billion in 2017, from N116.06billion in 2013. Meaning the last two years of Governor Imoke and the first two years of Governor Ayade amassed additional N9.59billion Domestic debt.

The 2017 statement DMO annual report and statement of account is hereby uploaded for pubic view in Google drive. Those lazy media aides who lack common research skills can also view for free. Click here to view. It’s a 176 page document. Scroll to chapter seven which deals with sub national debts and confirm the source of my information.

‘’I can report that Governor Ayade has been drawing overdraft from UBA in the last four years to pay salaries and accruing interest. The federal government paid N135 billion of all outstanding Pay As Your Earn tax liabilities owed by federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for 14 years to various states governments.

‘’Cross River’s share was N5.4 billion and was paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria into the state’s account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) on Friday May 31, 2019. By the following Monday, UBA had taken the money as part of their overdraft and interest. Cross Riverians should ask Governor Ayade to account for that money and tell us where it is or what it was used for.

‘’Governor Ayade also wrote the state House of Assembly earlier in the year to seek approval to borrow N648 billion to fund the superhighway. The letter which was dated February 19, 2019 with reference number SSG/S/300/VOL.XVII/1199, signed by the immediate past Secretary to State Government, Tina Agbor Esq. and addressed to the Speaker of the 8th State House of Assembly, Hon. John Gaul Lebo, sought the state legislature to pass a resolution granting “an approval for the state government to issue an Irrovacable Standing Payment Order ISPO of N300 million monthly through the UBA in favour of Messrs Sydney Construction Nigeria Limited for the Construction of the 275KM Calabar-Ikom-Katsina-Ala Super Highway subject to issuance of Interim Payment Certificate (IPC).

‘’Part of that letter reads, In line with Article 6A and 6B of the Contract Agreement, an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order in the sum of N300, 000, 000 (three hundred million naira only) monthly is required in favor of Messrs Sydney Construction Nigeria Limited in respect of the construction of the Super Highway Project.

‘’The State Executive Council meeting of Monday, February 18th, 2019 had approved the issuance of an ISPO to United Bank for Africa to the sum of N300m monthly to Sydney Construction. The approval was granted. There were allegations of gratification to members of the 8th Assembly to grant the approval but former Speaker John Gaul Lebo, debunked that allegation.

‘’Just 2 weeks ago, Governor Ayade again asked the Assembly for permission to borrow N5.00 billion from First Bank to pay arrears of pension and salaries.’’

Ulayi: Why has Jalingo failed to mention the verifiable fact that the Ayade administration has paid down in excess of N85 billion as debt repayment of inherited loans over the past four years?
We ask Jalingo to counter this fact.

AAC Chairman: Since Governor Ayade has decided to run the state finances like his personal business, I don’t need to counter that, since it was never in contention in the first place. But I will now have to investigate the claim to be sure it’s not one of those bogus claims we have become used to.

Ulayi: The procedures to obtain a domestic or an external loan requires a state to get clearance from the DMO. Without this clearance no lender, both domestic or foreign will lend any state. Therefore, it’s easy to verify if CRS under this administration incurred external debt of $53m. This is false once again. Mr Jalingo should state his source, external lender and other varifiable details to the $53m loan taken by this administration.

AAC Chairman: I have already given my response and sources earlier.

Ulayi: Jalingo states that Local Governments have been credited allocations directly. The fact is, no local government in Nigeria was credited with their monthly allocation directly. All allocations were credited to the JAAC Account as it has been done over the last decade. The delay in LG salary is straight forward, the LG have been asked to reconcile their nominal payrolls and pay their employees directly in compliance with the new policy. We dare Jalingo to state one LG in Nigeria that received direct allocation lodgment last month.

AAC Chairman: This particular matter is in court already. Our party has dragged the governor, the HOLGAs, and the NFIU before the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/TH/C5/153/19. I will not say much on that, other than expressing delight that, whether paid into JAAC or to LG accounts directly, the LG allocations for the first time in about two decades, are in a place where the state governor is running from pillar to post, circumventing rules, in a bid to access them. For the delayed salaries, time will tell. July too will soon end and August, September, October and co. are all ahead.

Ulayi: Jalingo states that Paris Club Refund of N6.1billion was paid in May 2019. This is an outright lie. CRS was never paid any Paris club refund in 2019. Once again we dare Jalingo to show verifiable details of CRS receipt of Paris club refund.

AAC Chairman: The (former) Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on Monday May 16, 2019 while addressing journalists in Abuja, said clearly that the last tranche of the Paris Club refundamounting to the sum of N691.560 billion was disbursed to states since March 2019 by the Central Bank of Nigeria after verification.

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