EFCC Probes 34 Governors Over Local Government Money
The US government recently froze about $483.00 million stolen by former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, in what could be described as the largest kleptomaniacal forfeiture action ever in the US history.
A top official of the Nigerian anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told our Correspondent, “If you wish to know the $483.00 million dollars, is in addition to the £500 and $700 million dollars previously recovered from the same culprit by the Nigeria government. Let me say here that these were monies he never used, saw, reached, and as we now know.” He alleged that a chunk part of this sum, were supposed to go to the Local Government Councils in the country for developments that would have touched the lives of the local people in the country.
The official also revealed that, President Goodluck Jonathan, has given the anti-graft body a go-ahead to investigate some 34 state governors, alleged to be messing around with funds meant for the Local Government councils in the country.
“It is based on this and other revelations that we have been mandated to investigate the Local Government allocations from 2007 till date. We are looking at 34 States that this thievery is considered pronounced.”
Asked if this was not political, coming at a time like this. “I don’t know what you mean by that, all I am telling you is that there is no particular time set aside to investigate criminality.”
It was gathered that the mandate covers a period of nine years beginning from 2007 till 2015. Already, feelers from the EFCC indicate that some of the governors have been parading the office of the accountant general and chief auditor of Nigeria to see how they can salvage the situation.
“The government means business and we are ready to toe in that line also. This stealing and misapplication of funds meant for the development of the local communities must stop.”
The source claimed the amount of money in question was staggering and shocking. “But with the cooperation of all the relevant government agencies, we would pull through the web.”
He refused to say how far they have gone on this and when the mandate was given, “this is a matter of investigation and I am not supposed to talk about it on the pages of newspaper, so just take what i have told you and allow us do our job for now, at the appropriate time we would get you informed of the outcome.”
“As a creation of the constitution, it is the statutory responsibility of local governments as the third tier of government to cater for the people at the grass root level which form the preponderant majority of the population of the whole country,” says the President of NLC, Abdulwaheed Umar, in a chat.
Umar added that it was universally acknowledged that no meaningful economic planning and development can be made without finance. Determining the key roles of finance managers and processes of financial management is central to better fiscal outcome.
He revealed that lack of adequate technical capacity and constitutional loopholes associated with the creation of the state and local government joint accounts are the key factors affecting efficient financial management in the local government.
Investigation revealed that in Nigeria since the return to democracy, state governors have come to determine who gets what and when, even at the federal level.
“It was also gathered that the desire of the governors to dominate our polity at all levels seems clearly to be selfish and self-centered. In the last constitution review exercise, state governors got the state houses of assembly to vote down the move to grant financial autonomy to the state legislature and Local Councils, in spite of the benefits the move would have portended for our democracy,” said Umar.
He added that State governors now determine who becomes minister, ambassador, board member etc. They determine who gets party tickets as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and who succeeds them as well. They determine solely in their states, who becomes council helmsmen, councilors and all. “They are able to do all this because of enormous money at their disposal, money meant for Local governments which they have stolen.
Since the President has woken up from slumber and want to damn the consequences and clear this mess, the Labour through the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) would support him.”