CSNAC Tackles Nasarawa State Govt

Umaru Tanko Al-makura Nasarawa State Governor

Umaru Tanko Al-makura
Nasarawa State Governor

Reports of alleged corruption against the Nasarawa State governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura by Nigerian News magazine and others have continued to generate reactions with an NGO calling for his probe. – By Rita Onuoha

This is not the best of times for the Nasarawa State government in North Central Nigeria. A group known as the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, has filed a Freedom of Information, FoI, request with the Nasarawa State government seeking information concerning its alleged misapplication and mismanagement of public funds.
The network cited as a basis for its request, the reports in the September 2, 2013 edition of Newsworld as well as The News Magazine, detailing corruption in the activities and allowances of members of the State House of Assembly. “We consider the alleged pillaging of the state’s scarce resources by legislators who are elected with the constitutional duties of legislating in the public interest most unfortunate and reprehensible,” CSNAC wrote in a letter addressed to the governor.
It continued thus: “From our last check, Nasarawa State competes with Ekiti State as the least funded states from the federation allocation table.  The level of evident poverty across the state gives credence to alleged mismanagement of meager available resources. Learning of the inhuman enrichment of individuals at the detriment of the populace through phantom constituency project and monthly payment is most disheartening and worrisome.”

CSNAC pointed out that the governor was quoted as having admitted in an interview with The News Magazine that the assemblymen were paid a monthly allowance of over N4 million, contrary to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC approved allowances and quarterly constituency project allowance of N10  million.  “No doubt, socio-economic and infrastructural development is elusive in any state committing almost 89 per cent of her resources to recurrent expenditure and satisfaction of few over-pampered state officials,” it added.
Citing the need to uphold the values of transparency and accountability in governance and public life, CSNAC asked the government, under the FoI law, to make available to it and by extension the general public:
• Evidence(s) of progress report and status of payment for the construction of the new Nasarawa State House of Assembly complex to date;
• The total budgetary allocation released to members of the House of Assembly for constituency projects and monthly allowances in the last two years;
• Certificate of project completion undertaken by legislators under the allocated quarterly constituency allowances; and
• Contracts awarded under the Millennium Development Goals projects concerned and contractors in the projects.
CSNAC is a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organisations whose primary aim is to constructively and vigorously combat corruption vigorously, as well as ensure the effective monitoring of the various anti-graft agencies in Nigeria.

Full text of the letter:

9th September, 2013
The Executive Governor,
Nassarawa State Government,
Jendam House,
Lafia, Nassarawa.
Your Excellency;

Request For Official Information On Payment For New State House Of Assembly Complex

Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC,is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti- corruption organisations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in its activities in the fight against corruption and to enthrone transparency, accountability, probity, and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
We refer to reports in volume 41 No.08 of The News Magazine, dated 2nd September, 2013 and Nigerian Newsworld of same day bothering on corruption lush in the activities and allowances of Honourable Members of the State House of Assembly. The two separate reports chronicled the unfortunate misapplication and management of fund by the State Government in satisfaction of greedy Legislators. We consider the alleged pillaging of the State’s scarce resources by legislators who are elected with the constitutional duties of legislating in the public interest most unfortunate and reprehensible. From our last check, Nasarawa State competes with Ekiti State as the least funded States from the Federation Allocation tables. The level of evident poverty across the state gives credence to alleged mismanagement of meager available resources. Learning of the inhuman enrichment of individuals at the detriment of the populace through phantom constituency project and monthly payment is most disheartening and worrisome.
Your Excellency, as you were quoted to have admitted in the above referred interview with The news magazine, your Honourable members are paid a monthly allowance of over N4 million per month, contrary to the RMAFC approved allowances and quarterly constituency project allowance of N10 million. No doubt, socio-economic and infrastructural development is elusive in any State committing almost 89 per cent of her resources to recurrent expenditure and satisfaction of few over-pampered state officials.
To this extent and in a bid to uphold the values of transparency and accountability in governance and public life, we hereby request, by virtue of sec 2,3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information, FoI Act, that the Nasarawa State government make available to us and by extension the general public, the following;
Evidence(s) of progress report and status of payment for the construction of the new Nasarawa State House of Assembly complex to date.
The total budgetary allocation released to Members of Nasarawa State House of Assembly for constituency projects and monthly allowances in the last two years.
Certificate of project completion undertaking by legislators under the allocated quarterly constituency allowances.
Contracts awarded under the Millennium Development Goal, projects concerned and contractors in the projects.

We would appreciate if this requested information is made available to us within one week from the receipt of this letter.
Thank you for your understanding and anticipated response.

Yours faithfully,
Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman
Mr. Iliya Yakubu, the chief press secretary to Governor Al-Makura was asked of his reaction to the development. Despite numerous phone calls and SMS, he declined comment on the development. One of our text messages to him early last week read: “Good day Mr. Iliya. We are in possession of a letter from the Civil Society Network Against Corruption requesting for information on the alleged misappropriation of funds by your boss (the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State). You may wish to confirm the receipt of the letter dated September 9, 2013.”

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