Fed Govt okays N148b refund to Osun, others

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the refund of N148, 141,987,161.25 to five states as the cash they disbursed in fixing federal roads in their domains.

Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed, who dropped the hint in a chat with State House reporters after Wednesday’s virtual FEC meeting, listed the beneficiaries as Cross River, Ondo, Osun, Bayelsa and Rivers states.

The minister said the memo for the refund was presented by Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fasola.

According to Mohammed, the virtual meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, considered claims of the five states in the approved memo.

A breakdown of the refunds shows that Cross River will get N18,394,737,608.85; Ondo (N7,822,147,577.08); Osun (N2,468,938,876.78); Bayelsa (N38,040,564,783.40) and Rivers (N78,953,067,518.29).

Mohammed, however, noted that the Council had warned that there would be no more of such refunds in future, should any state government venture into projects without first getting a mandate from the federal government.

He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the Federal Government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.

“This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.

“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Honorable Minister of Works and Housing, but also had ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Director-General  and the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office as members.

“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and there were federal government roads.

“But, the claims of five other states – Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.

“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order. That is why the BPP is on the committee. So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.

“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of N38, 040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of N78, 953,067,518.29.”

The minister said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges; that not only were they completed, they are in substantial good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.

However, Mohammed said the FEC placed a caveat on similar circumstances as gave rise to the demand for refunds, saying “the Federal Government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.

“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”

He said the modalities of refund  was being worked out, while payment would be made over a period of time, even as he said 31 states were earlier paid the sum of over N500 billion.

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