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‘No evidence Kwara govt diverted LG funds, borrowed to pay workers’

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AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq

Allegations that the Kwara State Government under AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq diverted N300 million monthly from council funds since May 2019 have been quashed by the panel of inquiry on the finance of the 16 councils.

In the report of its findings made available to The Guardian yesterday, the panel also said there was no evidence that the administration borrowed to pay salaries or pensions since it was inaugurated on May 29, 2019.

“We want to state categorically that there is no evidence, either oral or documentary, to support the allegation of N300 million monthly deduction from the council funds by the state government. The allegation of such deductions is, therefore, baseless and false,” chairman of the panel, Justice Matthew Adewara (rtd.), said late Wednesday when the panel submitted its report to the governor.

Governor AbdulRazaq had on August 11, 2020 inaugurated the panel to investigate the allegations of diversion of council funds or borrowings from the bank to pay workers’ salaries.

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Adewara said 35 witnesses testified before the panel with several documents, adding that the panel also visited some of the council to see projects earlier reported by the Directors of Personnel Management (DPMs) who appeared before them.

The panel’s report noted that the state government “does not deduct money from the SUBEB account while salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff are paid as and when due from May 29 to date.”

Adewara said the panel only received a memorandum from the Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD), adding, however, that the questions the civic group raised in its memo were all based on incomplete information sourced from the internet and social media.

“Meanwhile, all the grey areas have been thoroughly thrashed out to the satisfaction of Mr. Suleiman Oladimeji (of ENETSUD), having been confronted with the documents earlier submitted to the panel by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance.

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“The past administration obtained a loan of N4 billion from a commercial bank for payment of two months salaries arrears of council staff. It was this loan that the councils were repaying at monthly instalments of N317 million. The loan of N4 billion has been fully repaid in September 2019.

“There is another loan of N1.6 billion also obtained by the past administration, which repayment is ongoing and will terminate in August 2022. It means therefore that the present administration inherited the obligation to repay the loan.”

The committee urged the government to ensure monthly publication of the total wage bill, Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) and expenditure at the state and council levels. “This, we are sure, would guarantee accountability and transparency, which will enrich the integrity of the government in the minds of the people; thereby preventing future reoccurrence of doubt, allegation of financial misappropriation emanating from the people against government.”

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