Sokoto State Government, Bogus Investment and the Rest of Us
The Sokoto State Government has been making several claims about how it has developed the state economically and otherwise. Here is a summary of what people need to know and take action about:
1) On Thursday 16th July, 2015 the Sokoto State House of Assembly met at 11:35 am and approved a loan of 2 billion naira for the Sokoto State Government from Eco-Bank plc for ” the financing of remaining work for Sokoto Cattle Breeding, Meat/Milk Processing Project” (House Votes and Proceedings No.7/14). A project the State Government claimed would “create thousands of jobs in the state”. Visitations to the proposed site of this project last week and earlier, met nothing to show that this project is being embarked upon by the State Government, over two years after the approval and securing of the 2 billion naira loan. The latest information we had from some people in the Government was that they “are still waiting for the delivery of equipment for the project from abroad.”
2) On Tuesday 20th October, 2015, the Sokoto State House of Assembly met at 10:54 am and approved among others, “10 billion CBN Excess Crude Bailout at 9% interest rate through UBA with 20 year-repayment period to finance capital projects” across the state (House Votes and Proceedings No.52/142-144) Over 2 years after the approval and withdrawal of 10 billion naira, the Sokoto State Government cannot brag of a single completed project worth 2 billion naira covered by this fund in the state.
3) On Thursday 16th June 2016, the Sokoto State House of Assembly met at 11:50 am and approved among others, “purchase of 1 billion ordinary shares at N1.00 per share amounting to 1 billion Naira from TAJ BANK PLC.” (House Votes and Proceedings No.7/21). We have made many attempts to locate this bank or any sign of its being on the process of being registered/licensed by the CBN or quotation on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, both on the internet and physically, but can still not establish so. It is either the State Government has been scammed or she has scammed her people.
4) On Tuesday 13th December 2016, the Sokoto State House of Assembly met at 11:30 am and approved to the Sokoto State Government thus (House Votes and Proceedings No.112/216-220)”
i- ” House does allow the Sokoto State Government to procure a loan of three (3) billion naira from Zenith Bank plc that will be used for the development of Agricultural Entrepreneurship in the area of process/rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure aimed at encouraging all-year round farming, livestock and fish farming among others. Our investigations could not lead us to anyone in the state empowered by/with these funds in the agricultural areas mentioned above a year after.There are also no pointers to investments in irrigation, livestock or fish farming in the state.
ii- “House considered and approved for the Sokoto State Government to obtain a loan facility of 5 billion Naira from Access Bank Plc, at the interest rate of 18% per annum payable in 24 months to enable the State Government to access and utilise in respect of counterpart funding for different projects that have direct bearing on the lives of the people in the state”. What is fishy here is the lack of explicit description and explanation of these projects that “have direct bearing on the lives of the people in the state”.
iii- “House also resolved to allow the State Government to secure a loan facility amounting to $50 million USD (a dollar was above 430 naira then) from Broad Spectrum Industrial Services Ltd. aimed at boosting the efforts of the present administration in revenue generation and alleviation of poverty, creating job opportunities and economic empowerment.”
Here is a State Government taking a loan of 50 million dollars to generate revenue! No one in the state, even the State Government itself can pin point one poverty alleviation, job creation and empowerment program done with the 50 million dollar-loan secured.
5) On Thursday 20th July, 2017, the Sokoto State House of Assembly met at 11:25 am and approved thus (House Order Paper No.32/37 ):
i- ” ISPO on the procurement of 30,000 metric tones of fertilizer from Ponglomerape Nig. ltd, to the tune of three billion, four hundred million (3.4) billion naira from Access Bank plc, with a monthly repayment of 202, 632,058.55 for the period of 18 months at 9% Rate per annum. Our questions here are why would a state that brags of establishing a modern fertilizer company waste 3.4 billion to buy fertilizer? If the project was not completed then, why could the State Government not invest the 3.4 billion naira in the company thereby creating more jobs and making the fertilizer cheaper and more accessible to farmers? The answer s are that either the fertilizer company is useless or there is some fraud surrounding this deal.
ii) “A term loan facility from Fidelity Bank Plc, amounting to one billion, four hundred and twenty six thousand, eight hundred and fifty (1, 189,426,850.00) billion naira, to bridge the shortfall for the 2017 hajj payment to the National Hajj Commission.” Here we are also tempted to ask questions about the shortfall. Do pilgrims not pay money as decided by the NHC that the State Government has to expend over 1 billion to bridge a shortfall? Whose shortfall? In an attempt to have the State Government’s side of these issues, our request for information, through the evoking of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) in letters dated 9th October 2017 (and a reminder sent 2 weeks later) to the Secretary to the State Government and the Speaker, Sokoto House of Assembly on the report of the House Committees that performed oversight functions on each of these projects and report of committees on other project respectively, the response to which, written or verbal, we are yet to get. We have made all arrangements for legal actions against the offices concerned because the deadline for information to be given, provided for in the Act have since elapsed. We will make further submissions on the projects for the purpose of which monies are expanded but not executed and share with people for them to take further actions. We are on the IPP project and our findings will be revealed once concluded.
Written by Sokoto Forum of Progressive Minds & Sokoto First.