Makinde tackles Akpabio over N30bn hunger fund claims, says senate president playing politics with Nigerians’ welfare

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has declared that there is no truth in the claim by Senate President Godswill Akpabio that the states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations to address food insecurity in their states.

Makinde made this declaration in Iseyin on Thursday during the commissioning of the newly renovated Iseyin Central Mosque.

Akpabio had earlier claimed that each of the states of the federation has gotten an additional N30 billion allocation from the federal government

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Akpabio said each state should properly utilize the money towards ensuring the availability of food.

Speaking on the floor of the senate, Akapbio said: “I must say that unverified report has it that each of the state government in the last few months received additional N30 billion from Federal Inland Revenue Service, outside their normal allocation from the federation account to assist them in ameliorating the food situation.

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“We believe that every state government should utilise the funds so received towards ensuring that food is available.”

But, Makinde, who doubled as the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, stated while reacting that Oyo State has not received any N30 billion from the FIRS or the Federal Government.

Makinde added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effect of the economic hardship on the people. He then warned that leaders should instil confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde said: “This is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.

“This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAfER.

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“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify our prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers; but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award, N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage.”

The Benue State Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Michael Oglegba also faulted the statement attributed to the senate president.

Oglegba stated that the meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee was ongoing in Abuja as of the time one of our correspondents spoke with him on the phone.

When asked about the disbursement of N30bn to each state, the commissioner said, “That is not true; I hope the Senate president was not misquoted because I have not seen that report. I’m presently at a FAAC meeting in Abuja.’’

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He further said, “We have received many things but definitely not tackle hunger.’’

When asked to elaborate on the things received and for what purpose, Oglegba said, “I don’t have those things off-hand now.’’

The Director-General in charge of Media in Katsina State, Maiwada Dammallam, said he was not aware of any disbursement of the fund to the state government.

“I’m not aware that the Federal Government has given any governor N30bn,” he stressed.

Similarly, the Special Assistant to the Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal on Media and Communications, Mustafa Kaura, said he was not aware of the N30bn said to have been given to each state.

Kaura who spoke to The PUNCH on the phone said, “I am not aware of the money you are talking about. I am not aware of the N30bn said to have been given to each state by the Federal Government.”

Also commenting on the controversial disbursement by Akpabio, the Enugu State government said it did not know anything about the fund.

The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Peter Mbah on media, Mr Dan Nwomeh, stated, “We are not aware of that.”

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