By Simeon OSAJIE
Delta Government on Monday debunked media reports credited to a governor of a South-South State that it had collected refunds from the Federal Government without disclosing it to citizens, saying it had remained committed to transparency and accountability in all its financial dealings on behalf of the people.
Delta state Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, made this known at a news conference in Asaba, while addressing the issues of 13 per cent derivation arrears payment to oil-producing states raised by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers at the weekend.
Tilije, who was in company with Commissioner for Special Projects, Chief Henry Sakpra and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, said contrary to the “revelation’” by Wike, Delta had only received N14.7 billion in three quarterly installments of N4.9 billion each.
According to him, the total amount due to the State from the 13 per cent derivation arrears is N240bn out of which the Federal Government agreed to pay in quarterly installment for a period of five years.
“With the agreed amounts settled, some states like Rivers approached commercial banks and discounted theirs in full and collected, but Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa said he would not want to leave the next administration with a huge debt burden.
“He resorted to discounting only N150 billion out of the N240 billion expected receivables but later pruned it down to N100 billion.
“So far, we have got N14.7 billion in three quarterly installments and we have also accessed N30 billion out of the N100 billion we applied for as bridging finance,” he explained.
The commissioner stated that contrary to the impression given by Wike that previous administrations in the country refused to pay the money to the oil-producing states, the discovery of the outstanding funds was made by current commissioners for finance in the Niger Delta states.
“The present Commissioners for Finance of the nine Niger Delta states looked into the books of the NNPC and discovered that 13 per cent derivation was not deducted from subsidy payments and investments in priority projects by the Corporation.
“We took the matter before the FAAC and National Economic Council and got them to approve the payment in arrears to the affected oil-producing states.
“It is important to state that this was only discovered under the Buhari administration, which he subsequently approved. It is not that previous PDP administrations refused to pay. It was never discovered then neither was it brought to their notice,” he said.
Tilije also denied claims by former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, that the state government received over N60 billion on refunds for federal roads projects executed by the state.