BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state has appealed to the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to shelve their plan to immediately demand the repayment of bailout loan facility that was given to bankrupt states of the federation between 2016 and 2017.
He made the appeal during a panel discussion on ‘Financing Safe Schools in Nigeria’ on Tuesday in Abuja.
CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele had said the central bank and the fiscal authorities were going to insist on the states paying back the facilities. He was reacting to allegation by Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki that the federal government printed currencies worth N60 billion to augment for the shortfall in revenue to the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) in March this year.
The loans were given to the states under the budget support facility arrangement.
In July 2015, President Buhari approved $2.1 billion as intervention package to help bankrupt states pay salaries. The funds were disbursed to the states in two tranches and none of them has been able to repay the loan facility. Last year, the state governors appealed to the federal government to suspend the agreed deduction of the loan from their federal allocations.
Tambuwal pleaded with the Finance Minister and the CBN governor not to move to recover the debts at this time, saying most of the states would not be able to pay back the monies now.
Governor Tambuwal also said recovering the debts now from the states will make it impossible for the state governments to fund education in general and the safe schools project in particular.
Also speaking during the panel discussion, Kaduna State governor, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai said all the bandits terrorising the country and going about kidnapping students exterminated. He said girls are being targeted by bandits and kidnappers because they command higher kidnapping value than their male counterparts.
El-Rufai argued that bandits can be wiped out in two to three months using a combination of air power and boots on ground. The solution to the menace of bandits he said is to “kill them all”.
According El-Rufai “nobody living in the forest is innocent, kill them all”.
He commended the Nigeria Air Force for sustaining air strikes on the bandits which has dampened the activities of criminals. The Kaduna State governor advocated for the use of drones to target bandits.
El-Rufai lamented that the activities of bandits have evolved over time to the current scary stage of targeting school children particularly girls.
Proffering solutions to the menace of bandits, El-Rufai said his state has fenced many schools and encouraged community involvement in protecting schools.
Security agencies he said are overstretched and need to be empowered. He described the police as the weakest link in the chain of security agencies in Nigeria, because they are undermanned and under financed.
He called for the devolution of the police to the states and to make this a reality, he suggested an amendment to the constitution.
On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff Lt Gen. LEO Irabor said “investing in defence is a good investment”.
He stated that “the narratives in the media space are not true. We need to tone down because it creates too much fear in the minds of the people. I’d rather urge the media to understand that a failed nation isn’t good for the media”.