Again, states reject N75b NNPC arrears

ngozi-okonjo-iweala 125 September 2013, Abuja: For the second time in a week, state governments have rejected the Federal Government’s attempt to pay off what is owed them from the Federation Account.

The Nation gathered that the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF,, Jonah Otunla, called the Chairman of Commissioners Forum to gather his members to Abuja to collect the outstanding N75 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

In a telephone chat with the Chairman of the Commissioners’ Forum, Timothy Odaah, he confirmed that the AGFcalled a meeting with the other state commissioners of finance in Abuja to share the outstanding N75 billion, but that he rejected the offer, insisting t1hat all the backlog owed the states must be paid.

Odaah said the planned meeting was an attempt to box-in the states, adding that governors were bent on tabling the matter before President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said they were being owed N336 billion, with the N75 billion being the balance of the July 2013 arrears, N121 billion from June augmentation and over N90 billion as July augmentation.

He insisted that the states had already planned for all these monies and entered into financial commitments with contractors, as such the attempt by the Federal Government to offset payments to the states and the local governments in bits was unacceptable to them.

Odaah, who is the Commissioner for Finance, Ebonyi State, said sharing proceeds of the Federation Account demands that all parties must sign off the agreed sum to be shared before it can be disbursed.

He said the N75 billion that the AGF had suddenly retrieved from the NNPC did not get the blessing of the state governments and cannot be considered legal since the states did not agree to share it at any meeting.

On Monday, the Federal Government, through the AGF, raised N548.393 billion as the Statutory Revenue for the three tiers of government for August after it met tough resistance from the state governments. The money was rejected, just as yesterday’s.

Attempts to get officials of the AGF to confirm or deny the invitation to the state commissioners for finance proved abortive.

(The Nation)

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