President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the sum of N488.7 billion approved by the National Assembly as refund to state governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government. Buhari communicated the decision through a letter read by the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, at plenary on Tuesday 18th December 2018. The President said he rejected the National Assembly’s approval because it violated the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007. He noted that whereas the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a total of N487.8 billion for the purpose, the National Assembly jerked up the figure to N488.7 billion, an amount N890 million higher than that approved by FEC. Buhari said a review of the National Assembly’s approval, communicated through a July 27, 2018 letter, also revealed discrepancies in the number of states submitted by FEC and those approved by the lawmakers. He complained that while FEC approved reimbursement to 25 states, the National Assembly approved reimbursement to 21 states, omitting Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba. He also lamented that the amount approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement to 21 states was higher than the amount approved by FEC for reimbursement to 25 states. The president added that the amount approved by the lawmakers for each of the 21 states was higher than that approved by FEC for each of them, except for Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger. He urged the Senate to note that the Public Procurement Act 2007 empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve vendors for contract sums. According to him, the amounts presented to the National Assembly for approval were duly certified for reimbursement by the BPP before they were approved by FEC.
“Since the BPP is charged with the responsibility of approving contract sums, and there is need for compliance with the Public Procurement Act 2007, I wish to request that you forward to us details relating to the amounts approved by the National Assembly for the 17 states in excess of what was certified by BPP, for necessary verification and approval”. The President also requested for a review of the reimbursement earlier submitted in favour of Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba states. He went ahead to state ground rules for the Federal Government’s implementation of the reimbursements:
- Where the amount approved by the National Assembly is the same as the amount approved by FEC, the jointly approved amounts would be refunded. States in this category were identified by the President as Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.
- Where the amount approved by the National Assembly is higher than the amount approved by FEC, the amount approved by FEC would be paid. Benefiting states in this category include Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara.
- The four states of (Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba) excluded in the NASS approval will not be refunded until their consideration by the lawmakers.