El-Rufai’s aides fault alleged N423bn fraud

Former aides of ex-Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, have said that Governor Uba Sani’s administration has been drawing from the various foreign loans facilitated by the immediate-past government in the state.

The ex-officials dismissed accusations that the El-Rufai government drew down the loans before it exited office in May 2023, just as they described as unfair and irresponsible the allegation by the Kaduna State House of Assembly that the former government mismanaged N423bn state funds.

This was contained in a statement on Tuesday, jointly signed by a former Commissioner of Environment, Jafaru Sani, Hafsat Baba (ex-commissioner, Ministry of Human Services), Thomas Gyang (Public Works and Infrastructure), Bashir Saidu ( Ministry of Finance), Ibrahim Husaini (Ministry of Agriculture), Aisha Dikko (Ministry of Justice),  Fausat Ibikunle (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development), and Idris Nyam, ex-commissioner, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Technology.

An ad hoc committee set up by the Kaduna State House of Assembly to investigate all finances, loans and contracts awarded under the immediate-past governor had indicted El-Rufai and some of his appointees of siphoning N423bn state funds.


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The Assembly, while adopting the report of the 13-man panel, asked the state governor to refer El-Rufai, his finance commissioner and other aides to relevant security agencies for investigation.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission subsequently set up a panel to investigate the alleged fraud.

But responding to a fresh allegation about the disbursement of some foreign loans, the former environment commissioner, Sani, described as exaggerated the number of loans listed in the probe report as having been contracted and funds disbursed before May 2023.

In the statement Sani read on behalf of other ex-cabinet members, he said, “Some loans were negotiated and agreed, as part of the aspirations for the progress and development of the state.

“However, disbursement of several of these loans listed in the (probe report pages 112-116) had not commenced by the time of the exit of the El-Rufai administration in May 2023.

“These include a $280m loan for the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project. A $150m loan is alleged to have been received from the African Development Bank for the Kaduna Special Agro-Processing Zone.

“The El-Rufai government is justly proud of the planning and hard work its team did to ensure that Kaduna State made the first list of states selected for the SAPZs. However, AfDB had not commenced the disbursement of the loan by May 2023.’’

The ex-aide further said that contrary to the assertions in the probe report, it is the French Development Agency, and not the African Development Bank, that provided the $130.7m loan for the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport System, adding that no cent was disbursed before the last administration’s exit.

The statement also listed other loans facilitated by the El-Rufai administration but which were being drawn by the Sani government, including the $20m loan for the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project and the $62.8m Reaching-Out-of-School Children project.

It noted, “The (probe) report also listed some loans as fully disbursed when they were only partly disbursed during the El-Rufai administration. These include ACReSAL: Only $2m was received by the Kaduna State Government for the Agro-Climatic Resilience Semi-Arid Landscapes before May 2023, all of which was left intact for the successor government.

“Ascribing $494m XDR as the amount disbursed to the state, as the report does, merely continues the pattern of patent falsehood. Only $23.88m was received for AGILE as of May 2023, not the $280m stated in the report.

“As of December 2022, Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment had funded 12 major renovations in 110 schools and minor rehabilitation of 550 others. The initiative also financed the accelerated implementation of the life skills programme in 19 senior secondary schools.

“At the December 2022 Implementation Support Mission to States participating in AGILE, Kaduna was declared as the best state in two components: Renovations and Monitoring and Evaluation. The state also received an award as the most innovative in project implementation.’’

The former cabinet members further clarified that $352,855 was disbursed to the state in June 2023, for the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene programme, after the El-Rufai administration’s exit.

 

 

[The punch]

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