Cross River State branch of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has made a request to Governor Ben Ayade demanding information on the N18.4billion believed to have been paid to the state government by the Federal Government as refunds for interventions made on federal roads by the state between 2005 and 2015.
In a letter to the governor dated April 16 and signed by IPAC Chairman in the state, Comrade Anthony Bissong Attah, they requested details of the refunds made by the Federal Government to Cross River State for repairs of 20 federal roads and one bridge from 2005.
The letter said: “On June 3, 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved one hundred and forty eight billion, one hundred and forty one million, nine hundred and eighty seven
Thousand, one hundred and sixty one naira and twenty five kobo only (N148,141,987,161.25) as refunds for road repairs to five states, including Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun and Rivers.”
It added: “Out of the approved sum, Cross River State received eighteen billion, three hundred and ninety four million, seven hundred and thirty seven thousand, six hundred and eight
naira and eighty five kobo (N18,394,737,608.85) only.
“On August 13, 2020, the Federal Government forwarded a letter to the National Assembly for approval of the money and both chambers of the National Assembly approved the money on November 24, 2020. Consequently, this money was released to the affected states in January 2021.”
IPAC expressed worries that “while other states have announced receipts of the money as well as enlisted projects for which the money will be expended, we have not heard anything from you or your media aides about this money. Is it that our share of N18.4billion has not been released? We need answers to enable us properly enlighten the people.
“This is also important to us as critical stakeholders of our state because arguably this is the biggest financial envelope in the history of our state. We advise that you kindly tell Cross Riverians everything about this money so that the matter will be put to rest.”
Recently, River State Governor Nyesom Wike picked up the issue with his follow governors who benefited from the refunds by the Federal Government to the states, noting that he publicly announced to Rivers State people and also told them the projects the money would be used for.
“We are honest and transparent. Those projects are being inaugurated. Let them also tell their people and invite people to inaugurate the projects,” Wike said in a short video clip which came at the time he was believed to be responding to statements by Governor Ayade against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership in the country.
Contacted for response, Information Commissioner Mr. Asu Okang did not pick up his calls or respond to the SMS sent to him at press time.
Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola, who made the disclosure on the refund last June, said: “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, N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyover bridges, N78,953,067,518.29.”
He said the Federal Government verification committees confirmed that the roads and the bridges were not only duly completed but were also in good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.
Fashola added: “However, there is a caveat; the Federal Government will pay the states but, henceforth, if any state takes on federal road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.”