FG can’t dictate to state on use of Paris loan refund, says Okowa’s aide

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It is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to dictate to states how to use the Paris loan refund due to them, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said.

Aniagwu,who  spoke while fielding questions from journalists when he visited the Indigenous Newspaper/Magazine chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Asaba, said it was wrong for the Federal government to dictate to states how to spend their own share of the Paris-London Club loan refund, pointing out that the federal government’s position on how states should spend their share of the fund remains unconstitutional.

Controversies have trailed how governors have spent shares accruing to their states. Aniagwu  said dictating to states how the fund is spent is unconstitutional. He reminded the Buhari government that the fund is not a bailout that should have conditions attached to it. According to him, the states do not owe the federal government any explanation concerning how the fund was appropriated.

Aniagu said the state government had justifiably used its share to meet critical needs of the state as directed by the 1999 constitution. He noted that the state had priorities that are different from other states. “The Paris refund, I hope you know that the money belongs to the states, it wasn’t a dash and not a bail out. It wasn’t a gift, it was what rightfully belongs to the states and the local governments and I know you know that we are running a tier of government that is independent and whose powers and responsibilities are guaranteed by the 1999 constitution, as amended.

“This idea of media houses helping some persons to spread ignorance that somebody can be in Abuja and tell you how to spend your money is not how democracy works.

“If you are giving me a bailout, you can set the conditions that these are the conditions on which I’ll give you this bailout; you must use this money this way, in which way you can set the rules because you are the one giving. But when you are allocating my money to me, our priorities are different.

“Let us assume in Delta state we are not owing anybody salaries, are you going to say we keep the money until we begin to owe so that we can use it? What we have done is to make very judicious and transparent use of the monies that were refunded to us. We addressed, in part, the plight of pensioners, assisted the local governments too to be able to solve some problems, in addition to giving them part of their money, to reduce the wage burden

“We did not also lose sight of the promises we have made to make life better for Deltans, after all, Section 14, subsection 2, paragraph B of the 1999 constitution states clearly that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people.

“So the availability of that fund enabled us to give vent to that particular provision of the constitution,” he said.

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