- Governors angry as $3.45b Paris Club refund is stuck
Tragedy struck in Kaduna on Sunday as 15 persons, including six national women leaders of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ, perished in an auto accident in the state.
The accidents occurred at two different spots.
The Federal Road Safety Corps’ Sector Head of Operations, Kaduna, Mr. Salish Umar Galadunci, confirmed the incidents.
He, however, could not say whether the women leaders were part of the accident which occurred along Kajuru Junction, Maraba Rido Kachia Road, in Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
A source told our correspondent that five high-ranking women lost their lives along with the driver of the bus conveying them from Kebbi State after attending the inauguration of the church in the state.
In his account, the source said the wife of a former ERCC Secretary General and Vice Chairman, Sanga Local Government Area in Kaduna State, Mrs. lydia Nuhu Idzi, was among the women that died in the accident.
While confirming the incident, the FRSC official said, “On 14/5/17 at about 1630hrs at Kajuru Junction, Maraba Rido Kachi Road, two vehicles moving in the same direction collided and caught fire with 18 persons inside.”
Galadunci explained that the vehicles were trying to dodge a motorcyclist who was crossing the road when it collided with another oncoming car and immediately went up in flames, roasting about 13 of the 18 persons in a Toyota Hummer bus with number plate, AkW 60 XA.
He said, “The first vehicle in the front, which was on speed, tried to avoid the Okada but instead ran into a ditch by the roadside and the other vehicle following also rammed into the bus in front and there was fire.
“The two vehicles are a Toyota bus with number plate, AKW 60 XA; and a Toyota Starlet, with number plate, AA 379 FNN. Eighteen persons were involved; five persons were injured; 12 died, including two adult males and 10 adult females.”
He added that the remains of the deceased had been deposited at the mortuary of St. Gerard Catholic Hospital in the state capital.
In the meantime, states eager to have the $3.45 billion second tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refund may have to wait longer than planned, it was learnt yesterday.
The Federal Government is withholding the cash – no thanks to what is believed to be the mismanagement of the first tranche.
The delay follows the ongoing probe of N19billion and $86.5million deducted by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) from the first tranche of N522.74billion.
The Presidency is awaiting the outcome of the investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the first release.
The government is believed to have tactically attributed the delay in remitting the second tranche to the “cash squeeze” the country has been undergoing.
But the governors are angry that some Presidency forces have influenced President Muhammadu Buhari to have a “rethink” on the second tranche.
The President had on April 2, May 24 and May 31, 2016 met with the leadership of the NGF on the financial crisis affecting most of the states, especially non-payment of salaries and pensions.
The governors demanded $6.9billion refund from the Federal Government to states and local governments for alleged over deduction for loans servicing.
They also asked for refund of the money spent by the states on Federal Government projects.
The President conceded to the governors on five conditions:
A thorough reconciliation be carried out between the Federal Government and the states;
50% of the claims submitted by the states be released, prior to completion of the reconciliation, to support states;
25-50% of the cash released will be used to settle outstanding salaries and pension arrears in most states;
There will be judicious use of the remaining 50% on development projects; and that
Local governments will have access to their share of the refund.
The presidency is said to have realised that most of the governors have defaulted in the conditions attached to the release of the refund.
The government is worried about the diversion of N19billion and $86million deducted for payment to consultants and legal advisers engaged by the NGF and some states.
A government source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Buhari administration meant well. To show its commitment, it raised a Refund Committee comprising the Acting President, who is also Chairman of the Board of DMO and the Economic Council; Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari(the chief driver of the Refund Movement; The NGF chairman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari (Co-Chief Driver of the Refund Movement); the DG of NGF, Mr. Asishana Okaru (Co-odinator of states); Suraj Yakubu (GSCL Consulting Limited) as consultant-in-Chief; Bizplus Consulting Limited, another Consultant, and Alhaji Sani Anani, the refund marketer.
Punch with additional report from Nation