Buhari Rejects National Assembly Approval Of N488.7bn Refund To States

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has rejected the sum of N488.7 billion approved by the National Assembly as a refund to state governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.

The President communicated the decision through a letter read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday’s plenary.

President Buhari said he rejected the National Assembly’s approval because it violated the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

The President noted that whereas the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a total of N487.8 billion for the purpose, the National Assembly jerked up the figure to N488.7 billion.

Buhari said the amount approved by the lawmakers was N890 million higher than that approved by FEC.

He said a review of the National Assembly’s approval, communicated through a July 27, 2018 letter, also revealed discrepancies in the number of states submitted by FEC and those approved by the lawmakers.

His words: “While FEC approved reimbursement to 25 states, the National Assembly approved reimbursement to 21 states.

“The National Assembly did not approve any reimbursement to four states, that is Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba, whereas FEC approved reimbursement for them.

“And note that the amount approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement to 21 states is higher than the amount approved by FEC for reimbursement to 25 states.”

President Buhari added that the amount approved by the lawmakers for each of the 21 states was higher than that approved by FEC for each of them, except for Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

The president urged the Senate to note that the Public Procurement Act 2007 empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve vendors for contract sums.

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Buhari said the amounts presented to the National Assembly for approval were duly certified for reimbursement by the BPP before they were approved by FEC.

“This was after the projects had been inspected through a programme under the chairmanship of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.

“Since the BPP is charged with the responsibility of approving contract sums, and there is need for compliance with the Public Procurement Act 2007, I wish to request that you forward to us details relating to the amounts approved by the National Assembly for the 17 states in excess of what was certified by BPP, for necessary verification and approval.

“Furthermore, I wish to request for a review of the reimbursement earlier submitted in favour of Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba states,” he said.

President Buhari told the lawmakers that the Federal Government would proceed with implementation on the reimbursement on certain grounds.

The President said where the amount approved by the National Assembly is the same as the amount approved by FEC, the jointly approved amounts would be refunded.

President Buhari identified Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger state as the states in this category.

President Buhari furthered that where the amount approved by the National Assembly was higher than the amount approved by FEC, the amount approved by FEC would be paid.

Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara state are the states benefiting from this.

The President, however, said the four states (Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba) excluded in the NASS approval would not be refunded until their consideration by the lawmakers.

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