By Balkis Tijani.
The Kwara State Government has reacted to the rejoinder by former Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed on alleged mismanagement and diversion of the counterpart-funded grants appropriated to the state by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Recall that the former governor, through a statement issued by his spokesman, Dr Muyideen Akorede, yesterday, refuted claims his administration was blacklisted by UBEC as a result of mismanagement of the said grants, following Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s visit to the federal agency’s headquarters which uncovered mysteries surrounding Kwara’s inability to access funds from the agency since 2013.
In swift response, Ahmed exonerated his administration from any wrongdoing, adding that he wasn’t aware of Kwara being blacklisted by UBEC during his tenure.
He further clarified that UBEC “cancelled a N2,090,101, 208 grant to the state when the government borrowed from SUBEB its fifty-per cent counterpart fund of N1,045,050,604, for the payment of salaries at the height of the 2015 economic recession which prevented most states in Nigeria from meeting salary obligations to workers.”
The ex-governor also explained that his government’s “temporary borrowing of the counterpart fund for salaries was based on its concern for workers’ welfare and a commitment to repay from then expected refunds from the federal government.”
Ahmed, also emphasized that his administration refunded a part of the money but was prevented from paying the balance of N450m from funds received by the administration in the last days of its tenure due to its accounts being frozen for unclear reasons.
Responding to the perceived denial of Abdulfatah Ahmed, Governor Abdulrazaq, through a statement issued today by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye rubbished the former governor’s clarification, describing it as untenable, fishy and holds no water in the face of revelations from UBEC and the decrepit state of schools in Kwara State.
The statement also disclosed that Kwara ranked the lowest on the list of UBEC Matching Grant Disbursement Performance as at April 30, 2019.
The statement reads: “We regret to say that the last administration cannot be forgiven for the criminal neglect of the schools because the consequences are there for all to see.
“As at April 30, 2019, Kwara has the worst rating under the UBEC Matching Grant Disbursement Performance! This is a written record. This is the legacy of the former Governor and the PDP administration in Kwara State.
“The former governor claimed he was unaware that Kwara was blacklisted. This is false. The diversion of the N1.5bn UBEC funds and the decision of the agency to bar the state from further dealings until diverted sums were paid is nothing but official blacklisting of Kwara State.
“UBEC officials made it clear that they investigated Kwara’s claim that it used the funds to pay workers and found same to be false. The investigations, they said, showed that the money was diverted. The UBEC position is further corroborated by the fact that at least 49 school projects captured under the fund were either abandoned or not started at all.
“It has been four long years (in 2015) since Kwara was blacklisted on account of the irresponsible diversion of the 2013 UBEC funds.
“Between 2015 and now, Kwara has received over N22bn in Paris Club refunds and additional N4.3bn bailouts under the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Why didn’t they use part of that money to refund the N450m diverted from UBEC funds?
“We note that the FG actually used part of some States’ share of the Paris Club refund to settle their outstanding UBEC counterpart fund. Unfortunately, the FG couldn’t do that for Kwara because it had curiously spent all its share of the money.
“If it was true that the last administration wanted to pay the N450m diverted from UBEC funds that led to the blacklisting of the state, why did it wait four years to want to offset that debt only in May 2019 after it had just lost election?
“If the future of the children meant so much to the administration, why did it take so long to want to remedy an unfortunate situation that had occurred in 2015”, the statement queried.