Buhari rejects NASS approval of N488.7bn refund to states

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

Buhari communicated the decision through a letter read by the President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki, at plenary on Tuesday.

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

He 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.

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

Buhari 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.

He said, “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.”

The president 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.

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

According to him, 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,” the president said.

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

First, he 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.

He identified the states in this category as Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

Second, the president said 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.

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

He 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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