by Dare Lawal
At the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting on Thursday between the Federal Government and the 36 state finance commissioners, all 36 state commissioners of finance walked out on the Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Lawan Ngama over unpaid arrears of N160 billion for the month of February.
The meeting which started by 6pm in the evening did not proceed for more than 30 minutes, as the upset commissioners walked away leaving the minister, as well as the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) in shock at their actions.
This is the second time in as many months that the commissioners would be storming out of a FAAC meeting. The last time, on April 11, they did so because of the minister’s penchant for late coming.
The commissioners later addressed a press conference in which they said they were forced to take their action following the non-implementation of the resolutions taken in most of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings, especially the resolutions of May, 2013.
According to the Chairman of the Commissioners Forum who is also the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Timothy Odaah, “The arrears of February is not yet paid and no clue is given. The augmentation passed at last month’s meeting has not been paid. We have taken a lot of disappointments from this administration of FAAC which in all intents and purposes has been inactive” he said.
He said that there would no longer be FAAC meetings until all the conditions are met.
According to The Nation:
He also complained about the failure of the committee to pay “augmentation of last month (April Allocation) passed with a resolution.”
He said this augmentation has not been paid “and there is no clue as to why”.
Odaah lamented that “every month, returns from the states accountant generals appear to be shabbier than the previous one”.
He said states “have taken a lot of disappointment from the administration of FAAC which by intents and purposes has become templates of ineptitude”.
The states and local governments, he added, “have been bearing with the situation”. “Workers and contractors have to be paid, the various programmes of the state governments and local governments that are embodied in their various manifestos to carry the federation of Nigeria along with other obligations have to be met”.
The commissioners of Finance said they had decided to take the matter up with the President “ so that he and the state governments have to meet on these decisions that we have been hiding for them to put heads together with every other well meaning persons in the federation so that this problem will be resolved once and for all”.
Odaah noted that no member of the forum was absent from the media briefing, an indication that “this is a unanimous decision and resolution by all of the commissioners of finance”.
There were indications that trouble was brewing after the technical session when commissioners, while waiting for the arrival of the minister of state for Finance, told Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) Jonah Otunla, that they would not accept any delay of the plenary session, the meeting that endorses the decisions of the state Accountants-General at the technical session which also ratifies the amount to be shared for the month.
Shortly thereafter, Ngama came in for the plenary and soon the commissioners of finance started trooping out of the auditorium of the Ministry of Finance venue of the planned FAAC meeting and headed for Sheraton Hotel to address the media.