The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has slammed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over his comment on the controversial $418 million Paris Club.
Recall that Malami had in a chat with State House correspondents last Thursday said Governors have no right to complain about the deduction of $418m Paris Club refund from the federation account.
He said the fund is meant for the payment of the consultants hired by the state governors and local governments, adding that the governors created the liability whose payment they had also indemnified.
In a communique issued at the end of its meeting on Wednesday, the forum described Malami’s position on the consultants’ fee as fraudulent and self-serving.
Reading the communique to journalists, the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, insisted that the deductions for the payment for the consultants were illegal.
Fayemi said the governors had resolved to pursue the issue, which is before the law court, to a logical conclusion so as to know the next steps to take on the matter.
The governor stated that Malami was not acting in the public interest with his unguarded comments, saying that the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal about the matter.
The communique reads: “The forum extensively reviewed the purported attempt by the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, to secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council, to effect illegal payment of the sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancies in respect to the Paris Club Refunds to state and local governments.
“The forum set up a committee comprising the Chairman, the governor of Ekiti State, the Vice Chairman, the governor of Ondo State, the governor of Plateau State, the governor of Nasarawa State and the governor of Ebonyi State, to interface with the committee set up by Mr President to review the matter.
“But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is sub-judice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in the courts, we are constrained by the manner in which the Honorable Attorney-General has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which governors have committed themselves to and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that that’s not the case.
“We reject all of the claims that he has made on these issues and we also insist that states will not give up on insisting that these purported claims are fraudulent and will not stand, as far as governors are concerned, and we will take every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancies are fully litigated upon by the highest courts in the land.
“If the courts now find governors and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and states liable, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. As far as we are concerned, this is a matter that governors feel very strongly about and we do not believe that the Attorney-General of the Federation is acting in the public interest. We believe he’s acting in personal, selfish interest, that would ultimately become clear when this matter is fully addressed in the law courts.”
Economic And Security Situation
In order to address the prevailing economic and security situation in the country, the forum resolves to engage with the federal government and other stakeholders to deliberate, and suggest immediate action plans to ameliorate the current situations.
“The Forum extensively discussed the state of the Nigerian economy and security, following a presentation by Mr. Bismarck Rewani, member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council, the Forum resolved to immediately engage with the federal government and other critical stakeholders; Labour, the presidential candidates of political parties, and corporate actors on finding resolutions and suggestions to implement a set of immediate actions to ameliorate the worsening economic conditions in the country,” the communique reads.