13% derivation refund: Akwa Ibom citizens tackle Udom

Following Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike’s, recent revelation that Niger Delta governors were recently paid arrears of 13 per cent derivation fund from the excess crude account, Akwa Ibom citizens have challenged their governor, Udom Emmanuel, to publicly explain what he did with their share of the windfall.

Coming under the aegis of “Concerned Akwa Ibom Citizens,” a document signed by 10 of the citizens, representing the federal constituencies, also criticised the overbearing secrecy in government business, charging the state executive to give accurate account of his stewardship, particularly as his tenure draws to a close.

Those who signed the document wondered why the governor has been playing the ostrich game, since Wike’s revelation, rather choosing to subject them to a life of hardship, penury and abject poverty, despite the huge income accruing to the state from all sources.

“First, your excellency, how much exactly did you collect from the Federal Government and what did you use it for? We need figures and not essay? We ask these questions because your previous public statements and the current figures churned out in government documents by your officers are contradictory.

“In 2021 budget report for instance, it was cited that N184 billion was received as 13 per cent arrears. However, your administration in the IPSAS financial statement (accountant general’s statement) 2021, as cited by policy alert, it was noted that N135.6 billion was received as refunds, donations and other exceptional incomes.”

Again, in the press conference by the commissioner for finance and others, on Monday, November 28, 2022, N186 billion was quoted to have been received as derivation refunds. In the face of these inconsistencies, where lies the truth?” he queried.

Aside from the refund of 13 per cent derivation arrears on deductions made from the excess crude account from 1999 to December 2021; the refund of 13 per cent exchange rate differential; the Akwa Ibomites also demanded information on refund for the federal roads constructed by the previous government in the state; the amount received as Ecological Funds from the inception of Udom’s administration as well as the state’s share from the Paris Club Debt Repayment Refund.

The concerned citizens queried the governor’s seeming penchant for collecting questionable loans, expressing the worry that apart from weighing the state down with needless debt burden, the level of borrowing cannot be reconciled with the level of development, despite huge financial inflows.

They listed the loans to included N104,911,312,500 billion from First Bank Nigeria PLC., being a receivable discounting facility at the rate of 9 per cent for 30 months tenure, received in July 2021, with a first value repayment of N123 billon (via state executive council) with ref. No. GO/EXCO/S/10/S.7/302 dated, July 8, 2021 and via AKHA approval, dated same July 8, 2021 with Ref. No. AKHA/S/44/Vol.IX/989).

Others, amounting to N36 billion and acquired using the cover of 13 per cent derivation fund refunds are: Akwa GIS loan – N500 million (Polaris Bank); Flashpoint Loan – N700 million (Zenith Bank); Dakkada Global Oil Palm loan – N500 million (Polaris Bank); Akwa Savings Loan – N1.5 billion (Zenith Bank); UBE Loan – N715.07 million (Zenith Bank); Globus Bank VKS Loan: N5 billion; AKIRS Crystallized Loan: N24 billion (Zenith Bank); Agric. Loan: N500 million (Zenith Bank – CBN Account); FGN Bridging Facility: N3 billion; N248 billion receivable discounting loan facility (First Bank) tied to the $664 million arrears, which the state offered to pay commission/fees of N56 billion, totalling N304 billion; N11.8 billion loan obtained from Zenith Bank by Ibom Air in 2019 and guaranteed by Akwa Ibom State Government, with an outstanding of N10.7 billion as of date.

“These actions” they noted, “are contrary to Section 45 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which mandates state government to present cost-benefit analysis, with clear economic and social benefits of the purpose to which the intended borrowing is to be applied. These loans were variously taken without the due approvals of the House of Assembly.”

While also questioning the status, equity shares, profit profile and ownership structure of some of the industries reportedly established by the current government in the state, the Akwa Ibom citizens debunked the governor’s claim that the airplanes in the Ibom Air fleet are not only ‘brand new’ but are owned by Akwa Ibom people. They berated the governor for trying to deceive the people that the 13 per cent arrears refund was used to construct the MRO at the Victor Attah International Airport.

“Perhaps, you may have forgotten and need to be reminded that your predecessor, Godswill Akpabio, had built that MRO to about 88 per cent completion before the expiration of his tenure as governor.”

According to them, contrary to the governor’s claims, “it has been recently discovered that the aircraft have been on wet lease from Getjet, and not outright purchase. That was why the two earlier ‘brand new planes’ were returned after one year to Egypt Air, the original owners.

“One of the latest Air Buses, LY-GYM Ibom Air Bus: A320-200 is 17 years old and was previously used by Jazeera Airways (2005), Sri Lanka Airline (2010), Indigo Airways (2017), World Star Aviation (2021), Airhub Airlines (2022) and GetJet Airlines (2022) before leasing to Ibom Air. Similarly, LY-FAS Ibom Air Bus A320-200 is about 13 years old, having previously been used by Saudi Arabian Airline (2010), Germania Airlines, Lanmei Airlines (2019), Airhub Airlines (2022) and GetJet Airlines (2022) before Ibom Air. So, the question remains: Where is our money?”

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