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Did Yahaya Bello Misuse State Funds?

Photo Credit: The Nation 3 mins read

CLAIM: A post on Facebook and Twitter claimed that Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state bought 1,500 Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) from the N10 billion released by President Buhari to pay salaries.

The Federal Government has not to release the said N10 billion. Thus, it seems improbable for the governor to have bought these vehicles with the N10 billion. However, the origin of the vehicles as well as the issue of state owed salaries still remains unaccounted for. 

Full Text

On the 18th of October, several posts on Twitter and Facebook stated that Kogi state Governor- Yahaya Bello- bought 1,500 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Adding that he made the purchase with funds- N10 billion- released by President Buhari for the payment of salaries. 

Verification

Verification carried out by The Nation revealed that in a letter dated 10th October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari sought the Senate’s approval for the payment of N10 billion to Kogi State.

What was the purpose of the N10 billion?

The Nigerian President addressed the letter to Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan. He said the state government would use the money to settle local debts; incurred as a result of the projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.

President Buhari also noted that 24 out of 25 state governments had received the approval of funds by the National Assembly, since the eighth Senate passed the resolution.

According to the President, the N10.069 billion was the outstanding amount due to Kogi State Government; which is the only state yet to receive a refund.

Promissory note programme and bond issuance

A promissory note is a debt instrument which one party promises in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other; either at a fixed or determinable future time, under specific terms.

Importantly, the request utilized the promissory note programme and bond issuance; often used to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government.

Payment still pending…

The Senate President read the letter to the members of the Senate. Next, he referred the letter to Senate Committee on foreign loans and debts; who are to turn in their report in two weeks.

They are yet to receive funds according to Galacticus Mohammed Onogu- Chief Press Secretary. He gave this intel to the Nation when we contacted him, via a phone call.  

Is Kogi state Government owing Salaries? 

In August, Yahaya Bello- Kogi state Governor- claimed to have cleared the debts owed to the state workers. 

“I am therefore overjoyed that we have been able to update till July 2019 payments to every cleared worker. I appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for his roles getting the Bailout to us.”

Yahaya Bello

Also, the Nation received the same response from the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor. He said the state government was not owing state salaries; adding that the state cleared them. 

However, an appeal made by a group of teachers to the governor, says otherwise. In September, over 7,000 teachers beckoned him to look into the issue of non-payment of their salary. 

The teachers presented their case via a communique at an emergency meeting- Basic Education Staff Association of Nigeria (BESAN). They included teachers in public- primary and junior secondary schools. Apparently, they had been owed for the past 8-to-39 months!

The SUV Vehicles 

It still remains unclear where the campaign SUV vehicles came from. Although, it stands to reason that they did not come from the said N10 billion; as it is yet to be released from the senate. 

Chief Press Secretary- Galacticus Mohammed Onogu- said the campaign vehicles were donated by friends and well-wishers of the government. 

“The state Governor, Yahaya Bello has not from government account purchased any vehicle for his re-election campaigns. He has been receiving different donations of cars from friends and well-wishers after winning the Primaries in August this year… It was not bought with the N10 billion because the money has not been received to the best of my knowledge”

Galacticus Mohammed Onogu

Conclusion 

It is evident that Kogi state government is yet to receive the reimbursement of funds; required for government approved expenditure. However, what is unclear is where the vehicles came from and whether the current administration owes state salaries.


A Dubawa Fact-checking Fellow conducted this fact-check- in collaboration with The Nation. To see this article and others, click here.

Justina Asishana is the Niger state correspondent for The Nation Newspaper, Nigeria's foremost nationwide daily and online newspaper. Justina has previously worked at the New Nigerian newspaper and Daily Newswatch newspaper as the Niger state correspondent. She is an upcoming data and investigative journalist who has just discovered how to use data and data related tools for better reporting. She has done some investigative reporting for her media organization, The Nation Newspaper, the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ). She covers all sectors as a state correspondent. She was recently inducted as a Dubawa Fellow which is a fact checking fellowship to combat misinformation in the state and nation; she is the 2019 ONE Champion in Niger state and was the ICFJ 2018 Safety Fellow. Ms Justina is not afraid to explore new subjects and topics as she is always open and ready to learn new things in the field of journalism. She loves to read, write, explore the internet, travel, network, experiment with data tools and advocate for the rights of the people.

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