Wednesday, November 13, 2019 3:25 pm
There were concerns on Wednesday as the Senate approved the payment of N10.069 billion Promissory Note for Kogi State Government, about three days to the state’s governorship election.
The payment was refund for projects executed on behalf of Federal Government by the state.
But there were suspicions that the funds may be deployed for vote buying by the Yahaya Bello administration which is seeking a second term in the Saturday’s election.
Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, (PDP Abia) who agreed that the state be refunded expressed this concern when he noted that the approval came at the cusp of the Nov. 16, up-coming elections in the state.
“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.
He was, however, over ruled by Senate President Lawan.
The approval of the payment followed the presentation and consideration of a report at plenary by Committee on Local and Foreign debts by Sen. Ordia Clifford (PDP Edo).
The Federal Government had sought the approval of the senate for issuance of the promissory note.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, by President Muhammadu Buhari, and read on Oct. 15, at plenary.
The senate had referred the matter to the Committee on Local Debts for further legislative input; and was expected to report back to the upper chamber in two weeks.
Ordia, while presenting the report at plenary, said Kogi state was qualified to be paid given its funding of the federal projects.
He said the findings of the committee revealed that the state government had paid contractors that executed the projects, and was therefore, qualified for a refund.
Ordia then moved that the senate approved the committee’s recommendation for issuance of the promissory note.
Sen. Barau Jubril (APC Kano), in his contribution said the senate should approve the request by Kogi government.
Jubril said the government had done very well by spending its money to execute federal projects.
The senate president said the 8th National Assembly had passed other resolutions approving issuance of promissory notes to refund state governments for projects executed on behalf of Federal Government.
He said that National Assembly had approved the issuance of promissory notes to all the states that requested except Kogi.
“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 in unanimously voiced its affirmation for the vote.
But Sen. 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.