Civil Society organizations (CSOs) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Katsina State have reacted to Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s alleged approval of N499, 650,000 from the Local Government Joint Account for the purpose of mobilising residents to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari to the State on Thursday, January 26.
According to a letter that went viral on social media, the approval of funds dated January 18, 2023, signed by one Yahuza S. Ibrahim on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Government House, and addressed to the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, the sum of N14,695,588.00 is to be released to each of the 34 LGAs from the available balance of the 34 LGCs of the State in order to “cater for adequate and effective mobilization of citizens’ to welcome the president to the state.”
President Buhari is expected in the Katsina state on a two-day official visit from January 26 to 27 where he would commission some projects executed by the state government.
However, in their reaction, the coalitions of civil societies in the state, through the chairman, Comrade Abdurrahman Abdullahi, described the move as “one of the ways through which LGA funds are siphoned.”
He said, “It is a case of high-level corruption and squandermania. It is unfortunate for a state like Katsina where children receive education on the bare floor, access to health care is poor due to a shortage of human resources and medical equipment, portable water is inaccessible to many communities and many more social shortfalls to withdraw such a stupendous amount in the name of entertainment for the presidential visit.
“This money, if properly utilised, is enough to pay one-year allowances for over 4,000 casual workers in the state, provide 500 communities with portable drinking water or fabricate 50,000 desks for our students to learn in a more conducive atmosphere,” Abdullahi said.
“After all, this has clearly told us that all that the government has been saying about LGAs’ inability to pay their workers’ salaries due to insufficient funds is not true,” he said.
On its part, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through the Katsina State Chairman of Atiku/Lado Integrity Forum, Lawal Audi Yar’adua (A.K.A Lawal Dan Ade) who addressed a section of the press, described the move as frightening.
“I doubt if this amount will be released for the purpose stated in the letter, but if it is true that it will be used for receiving the President who is claiming to be fighting corruption, why don’t they use it in catering for victims of banditry across the state?
“Why don’t the government also use the funds for teachers’ training and payment of exams for students which the PDP used to do while in power?”
Attempts to hear the reactions of other opposition parties, including PRP and LP in the state did not yield any result as they both promised to get back to our reporter on the matter but failed to do so as at the time of filing this report.
In his reaction, the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Ya’u Umar Gwajo-Gwajo, said he was not aware of the said letter, having been away from office for days attending the campaign of his senatorial candidate.
“I call on people to stop acting based on speculations, let there be certainty on whatever people will want to react to.
“If the said letter is true and it gets to my table, I will see what it contains and if such approval is given, I will see what it is intended for and who should act on it. But for the time being, there is nothing like that and we have our local government funds intact in the account,” he said.
Also reacting, the Director General (New Media) to governor Masari, Al’Amin Isa, said the said letter of approval was fake and challenged those who made the allegation to prove its authenticity.