By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari has described as unnecessary the raging controversy over the approval by the state governors for the federal government to spend $1 billion from the excess crude account to fight Boko Haram insurgency.
He stated this Monday in Tahaoua, Niger Republic while speaking with State House correspondents.
Masari represented President Muhammadu Buhari as head of a four-man delegation at an event to commemorate the 59th anniversary of the country’s attainment of a Republican status.
The delegation included the Governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Yobe, Ibrahim Geidam and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijah Ibrahim.
Governors of the 36 states of the federation had last week announced the decision to approve the money at the end of the meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, which held in Abuja.
However, one of their colleagues, the Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose and his party, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have expressed the fears that the money may be diverted to political purposes ahead 2019 election.
Masari noted that those expressing the fears may be doing so in view of what happened in the past, assuring that Buhari will never allow such to happen.
His words: “ I don’t think it is controversial, people may be remembering that during the last administration when excess crude money was given to members of the armed forces to procure arms and ammunition, the money ended up in the pocket of some highly placed individuals.
“ First of all, the money that we are giving is not up to half of what was given earlier, but we know now that with the current president it is impossible for anybody to divert this money except for what it is earmarked for,” he said.
He also said it is important not to lose sight of the dangers poses by insecurity, which, he said, is “ everybody’s business “.
“ Again, it is very important for us to appreciate security is everybody’s business and we need to fight this situation head on.
“ One billion dollars is not much for security, if we have more, we can give more to make sure that the country is well secured.”
The Katsina governor also confirmed that most states had received the balance of the Paris Club loan refund from the federal government.
He assured that all civil servants would be paid their entire entitlements before the end of the year as promised.
The governors had two weeks ago met with the president and requested for the release of the money.
While assuring them of the release, Buhari asked the governors to ensure that they clear liabilities of salaries and pensions in their states before Christmas.
Masari said “ by Christmas everybody will be able to get his salary and whatever allowances are outstanding especially in the area of pension and gratuity”.
He said in his own case he has already paid civil servants their salaries to date.
He also said the state government has” sufficient funds to settle all our pension and gratuity liabilities. We have the money, it is in the bank and I believe other states also have.
“ No state can have any excuse not to pay before Christmas, in fact celebrations have already started. It is my hope and prayers that all that have gotten the money have paid their workers, both salaries, allowances, pension and gratuity”.
On the trip to Niger, the Katsina governor said the Nigerien leader and the people of the country had shown their appreciation to the efforts being made by Buhari with regards to the progress and unity of the West African sub region and Africa as a whole.
“ It has been demonstrated, Nigeria has been appreciated and collectively, we believe the sub saharan Africa, especially this part will unite and achieve two major issues; one, to conquer insurgency and also to improve the quality of life through economic activities. I think these two things are key for the region to move forward,” he said.
This years’ event, which held in the state of Tahoua, featured military parade, display of military hardware and cultural procession.
The occasion was witnessed by the President of Chad, Idris Derby, that of Burkinafaso, Roch Kabore, Mali’s Ibrahim Keita as well as President Mohammed Abdelaziz of Mauritania.
The host, President Muhammadu Issoufou gave each of the visiting Presidents and Buhari a gift of a camel and a horse each.