State governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum, in the early hours of Thursday, rose from their meeting, saying they were ready for the probe being conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on how they spent the N522bn Paris Club loan refund.
The meeting, presided over by the forum’s chairman, who is also the Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, was held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.The meeting, which started on Wednesday evening, did not end until the early hours of Thursday.
In an interview with State House correspondents, Yari said the state governors were ready for the probe. He challenged the anti-graft commission to conduct the probe and come up with its report. He, however, said the state governors were in total support of the present administration’s fight against corruption.
Yari stated, “We discussed the issue of Paris Club and London Club. We observed that the EFCC said it is doing investigations.
“Yes, we support the Federal Government for fighting corruption. We are waiting for the EFCC to come up with what they say is the investigation and come up with the result.”
The Director-General of the NGF, Bayo Okauru, had told The PUNCH on Monday that the governors decided to meet in order to clarify some of the issues being raised by the EFCC in its investigations. According to him, the NGF had nothing to hide in its account.
In December 2016, the Federal Government approved N522.74bn to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement for the over-deductions on the Paris Club loan.
Many of the states reportedly shared their portions with their local governments mostly to settle the backlog of salaries and some of the state-owned debts.
The EFCC investigators were said to have invited the three signatories to the account of the NGF to its office.
They were questioned on the running of the forum’s account.
The EFCC had issued a statement on the probe, saying nobody had so far been indicted.
Governors fete Oshiomhole, Mimiko
Meanwhile, the NGF had earlier, on Wednesday, hosted a former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and the outgoing governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, to a farewell dinner at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, graced the event that saw state governors eulogising the virtues of Oshimhole and Mimiko.
The former Edo State Governor lauded his former colleagues for the gesture. He also commended Osinbajo for the leadership he had been providing for the National Economic Council, which has all the state governors as members.
Mimiko said it was a thing of pride for the NGF for the first time to celebrate their former colleagues. He made a case for more powers for state governors. He said, “The situation, where state governors have no control of forces, is not a good thing. We have to recreate the image of the governors in Nigeria.
“There is a level of perception between the governors from the people and what they are delivering in the states.
“I think we need to rethink the image of the governors. Africa cannot come of age if Nigeria does not come of age.”
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