FRAUD ALERT: Okowa Blows N10b Paris Refund on BVN, Cars
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa went on a spending spree after collecting 10 Billion Naira Paris Refund from the federal Government, spending a whopping sum of nearly N180m in “related salaries” for the “Restoration of Bank Verification Number (BVN) Issues” alone. N85,339,400.00 was paid out in April 2017 and N88,619,700.00 was paid out in May 2017, totalling N173,959,100.00.
In an expenditure breakdown titled, “Brief on Utilization of N10 Billion Refund to Delta state of 3rd Tranche Excess Deductions on Foreign Debt Servicing by the Federal Government,” presented on behalf of the State government by commissioner for Information Patrick Ukah, the profligate Delta State government claims to have spent the N10 billion Refund to the last kobo.
XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE contacted Mr Ukah by text to provide further details on how such humongous sum was expended in the restoration of Bank Verification Number (BVN) that would have ordinarily cost nothing, but he did not reply to our text message. However, a source inside the Government House who did not what to be named told XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that “Screening was done for all Delta State workers for which they were asked to add their BVN to the form. The government needed to match the information workers submitted with their bank records. It helped fished out workers who falsified their age. It was an independent contractor that did this screening and he had to be paid from the Paris Refund.”
A banking expert dismissed the government insider’s BVN claim as “Nonsense talk,” insisting that “it was a way of giving out money to a crony-consultant pretending to help resolve BVN which is merely a verification of account numbers and tying them to the account holders and signatories. Restoration of a BVN involves no charge whatsoever.”
LG Councils Salary Arrears
Apart from the N173,959,100.00 spent on Restoration of a BVN, another sore point of Paris Refund is the purported N2,125,814,393.30 allocation to Local government Councils for salary arrears. XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE understands that although the money has been disbursed on paper, LG workers are yet to be paid their arrears as stipulated in the breakdown. Instead, what gov Okowa had done with the Council allocation was to roll out the latest Toyota Camry for Local Government chairmen as a gift. Controversially, a car that sells for N4.5-N5m is receipted for an over-inflated amount of N17 million each.
Hon. Benjamin Sharta, writing on his Facebook Timeline, confirms our finding: “I’m a serving councillor, the car issue is true and the price (of) N17m has already been deducted from all 25 Councils in Delta State. The said cars have already been distributed to each council chairman, my own council chairman Udu LGA is using Ashe colour of that car now.”
Paris Refund Controversy
The N10 billion Paris Refund has created a lot of controversy in the State. XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE reported on 22 July how Ibori, Clark, others shun Okowa’s PDP stakeholders meeting in Asaba that Governor Okowa allegedly spent over N50 million of the Paris Refund to host. A top government functionary source had told XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE then that Dr Okowa used part of the N50 million hosting money to pay homage to the aggrieved leaders and members of the party ahead of 2019 general elections.
A little over one week after our exclusive report, the profligate Delta State government was forced to go public in a laboured effort to justify its profligate spending of the Paris Refund. It is, therefore, not surprising that the N50 million did not figure in the Ukah’s “Brief.” Also, the Brief was conspicuously silent on the N17m on Camry car to each of the LG chairman.
Delta State Debt/Loans
Delta State is being strangled by huge debt. When Dr Okowa became the governor of Delta State on 29 May 2015, he claimed he inherited from Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan a N700 Billion debt. However, in a little over two years Okowa has plunged Delta State into further debt, with XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE sources claiming he had borrowed not less than N150 billion. See table below for some of the loans approved by Delta State House of Assembly.
|13/6/15||N10billion||to mitigate the harsh impact of liquidity crisis in the state, reduce the time lag in payment of salaries, pensions and overhead costs and ensure take-off of key projects|
|11/09/15||N30 billion||to defray the outstanding salaries of public servants and fund capital projects|
|26/11/15||N3 billion||Agricultural credit scheme from zenith bank|
|22/06/16||N14.16 billion||to enable the state to bridge some critical funding gaps in connection with funding of infrasrtructural development projects|
|13/06/17||N1 billion||education loan|
|30/06/17||N8 billion||to build an ultra modern secretariat|
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