The governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has asked his predecessor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, to return the N2.9billion he allegedly collected from the state treasury and shared among top government officials on the eve of their departure under the guise of a loan.
According to the governor, former Governor Aliyu took a loan towards the end of his administration on behalf of the state but instead of putting it into the projects it was meant for, he spread it across officials of his government.
In a statement issued yesterday by his chief press secretary, Ibrahim Dooba, Governor Bello asked top government functionaries of the previous administration to return monies they misappropriated to the government.
“They took this loan on the eve of their departure. And as was customary with that administration, they did nothing with the money,” he stated.
“You can’t collect a loan on behalf of the people and share it among yourselves. That’s literally what they did. They simply raised a list and allocated money to those on the list. The office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), for example, was given N600million. What he would do with the money, the records did not say. Well, we want our money back. The money belongs to the people; the governor took an oath to protect the people and by the grace of God, that is what he’s going to do,” the statement added.
It added that the government of Abubakar Sani Bello did not come to office to witch-hunt or to focus on probing previous administrations, “but we can’t, in good conscience, accept this brazen theft of the people’s wealth.”
The press secretary also said the new state government has itemised programmes based on the needs of the people.
“Our people need food, shelter, security, roads, water and so on and so forth. For example, the governor wants to start with the provision of potable water in Niger State and in that light, has visited our Water Board in Minna and a dam in Kontagora. In the coming weeks, we’ll provide water at predictable intervals to Nigerlites.”
“On the problem of electricity, we have started an arrangement to rent a power plant from overseas to provide regular electricity before a permanent solution is fashioned,” Dooba added.
He also said that the governor had requested zero potholes in Minna.
“Further, Minna-Kataeregi road, Kontagora-Tegina, Minna-Suleja, Bakeko-Katcha, Kaffin-koro, Kuta-Sabon Gari and Maitumbi-Maikunkele roads, among others, are receiving urgent attention. The contractors who abandoned some of the projects will be dragged back to complete what they started,” the governor pledged.
When contacted, the former governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, said the claim is false, adding that considering the financial situation all over the country, no reasonable government will just collect money and share it.
Aliyu who spoke through his spokesman, Mr Israel Ebije, said the government he ran was a responsible and responsive government that would not be so reckless as to share money among its officials as alleged.