By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has cleared the air following media speculations that the state is going for a N15 billion bailout from the Federal Government.
The State Governor disclosed this on Tuesday while addressing newsmen at the Governor’s Lodge, explaining that: “I’ve had similar reports in the dailies, but let me put few things in the right perspective.
“After the National Economic Council Meeting, I was the one that addressed the press, and I made that clear that it is not a bailout in the perspective that it is being written about. This is called the Budget Support Facility. The reason the Federal Government is making the states to access is that there is an on-going reconciliation between the State and Federal Governments. Some state governments are being owed a lot of money that they spent on federal roads and other assets.
“Also, there several other captions that have been raised by the state government. And as the reconciliation is on-going, what the federal government is doing is providing a lifeline. We are expected to show several levels of implementation of the budget at the end of the year. If this is June and we not done so much on the budget, at the end of the day, democracy is about impacting the life the people, and that can only be done through normal appropriation of the budget.”
Gov. Emmanuel further emphasised that “What the Federal Government is telling the states is that we have a line. You can draw on this line to implement your budget pending when we finish all the reconciliations, and then what is due to or from can easily be established. So it is actually called a Budget Support Facility. A lot of people make mistakes about it.
“I read in one of the papers saying that it is to pay arrears of pensions. We never mentioned that at the Economic Council Meeting, and we never told the press that. What we told the press was clearly that it is a Budget Support Facility. Once you get it, it is to go and implement part of the budgets. Nobody is telling you what to use the money for, but what we are after is you meeting the challenges in implementing those budgets. That was why the Budget Support Facility was put in place between the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Let people not make such mistake again that states are going for another bailout fund, trying to draw out funds to pay pensions, gratuities or salaries.”
According to him, the Budget Support Facility is not compulsory, as a state might decide to opt out of it, but it’s accessible to any State of the Federation.
Watch full conversation below: