MEMBERS of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) have distanced themselves from claims made by Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State that the federal government printed between N50bn and N60bn in March to enable it fund the budget.
Early this month, Governor Obaseki reported that Nigeria was in huge financial trouble, alleging that the federal government printed N60bn in March to help fund its federal allocation to the states. He also expressed concern over the country’s increased borrowing, saying it was wrong to continue borrowing without a tangible plan for debt repayment.
However, the PGF, the forum representing governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said that Governor Obaseki’s claims did not reflect the true position of things. Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, said at first, the impression the forum got was that it was an off-the-record remark made in a private meeting.
Governor Bagudu added: “Given the significance of the statement from a sitting governor and the possible negative impact it has brought to the credibility of both the federal and state governments in managing government finances. The forum is obliged to put a statement out to set the records clear and to the best of our knowledge, the total distributable statutory revenue for the month of March 2021 was N596.9 bn.”
He explained that due to the shortfall in gross statutory revenues by N43.34bn compared with the previous month, an augmentation was made in the sum of N8.65bn from the Forex Equalization Fund Account. According to the governor, this brought the total distributable revenue to N605.59bn.
In addition, he added that federation revenues distributed monthly primarily consisted of mineral revenues from the sales of oil and gas, as well as non-mineral revenues from customs and excise duties, company income tax and value added tax. He, however, admitted that there were periods when the country experienced significant fiscal shocks in federation revenues, but said the shocks were offset by other savings.
Governor Bagudu said: “These payments started since 2008 when the country first experienced fiscal shocks from the fallouts of the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009. As a trained economist who has been a governor since 2016, Governor Obaseki is aware of all the support states have received from President Muhammadu Buhari.”
He added that not only had states received budget support from the federal government but they had also received bail-out support to meet salary obligations and infrastructure refunds. According to the governor, this was implemented in the overall interest of Nigerians without discrimination on the basis of party affiliation.
“This is why it’s unfortunate and disingenuous to allege preferential treatment of APC states when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governed states are even greater beneficiaries of all the support. This unfortunate and inaccurate assertion by Governor Obaseki becomes even more worrisome when juxtaposed with the official statement released after the meeting of PDP governors last week,” Governor Bagudu added.