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NBillions of Katsina funds tear Shema, Masari apart
Masari battling Shema

NBillions of Katsina funds tear Shema, Masari apart

 

What was the state of the treasury of Katsina on May 29, 2015? Former Governor, Ibrahim Shema said he left monies behind, incumbent Governor Aminu Bello Masari said the treasury was empty-and so, the battle line has been drawn in the home of hospitality.

Shema on leaving power had told the world that he left a surplus of N4.3 billion. In a letter to the President by Shema’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun titled “ Re: Deliberate Blackmail, Denigration, Vilification and Persecution of Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, the Immediate Past Governor of Katsina State by the Governor Aminu Bello Masari led Administration-Appeal For Caution”, stated that after a sterling tenure, Shema was unhappy by the campaign of calumny against him.

The letter was a Save Our Soul (SOS) on behalf of Shema who claimed Katsina attained unequaled progress during his tenure. Affecting such sectors as transportation, education, health, infrastructural development, timely payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities, feats that got him accolades from within and outside and the state. Including from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shema: His reputation at stake

Shema: His reputation at stake

The letter was probably initiated following the allegations that Ibrahim Shema left a debt of N42billion, incurred a foreign loan of $78billion, dubiously transferred the sum of N7billon to account of state chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), embezzlement of N7.1billion SURE-P funds, N556million misappropriated by the State Universal Basic Education Board.

Shema stated that it is untrue that the Katsina State Government under his leadership incurred a debt in the sum of N42million or any sum at all. He insisted that all through his tenure, no loan whether internal or external, private or public, local or foreign was applied for, collected, received or in any way obtained for Katsina State. He noted the alleged $78billion represents an accumulation of facilities taken by previous administrations starting from military era. Some even as old as 1965,which predates the inception of Katsina State in 1985.

Shema revealed that he was always serving these debts with a monthly deduction of up to N72 billion not only that, he appointed an external auditor to audit the payments, who had announced that all the debts had been paid. It challenged the Masari-led government to make public, any foreign loan taken by his administration, as well as date, the creditor (foreign bank), amount and the purpose for which the purported loan was obtained.

The letter said that all monies were disbursed by the Ministry of Finance and all documents were supplied to the present administration. “It is therefore strange and mischievous, to say the least, that the transition committee alleged that N3billion was un accounted for without founding same on any logical or analytical ground

He noted that in the spirit of separation of powers, Local Governments were in charge of their salaries and gratuities so the N6.2billion if it exists cannot be a state debt. And affirmed that all the monies meant for Katsina SUBEB was judiciously used, and wondered why the Masari-led government that claims to love the people has cancelled the free education programme that was started and adequately funded by Shema.

Shema also beats his chest to say that despite the dwindling fortunes of the nation, he was one of a handful of Governors that as at May 29, 2015 did not owe civil servants. He therefore called on Buhari to call Masari to order.

However, the transition committee set up by Governor Masari told newsmen while submitting its report that it had uncovered a debt of N42 billion. In deed Governor Masari while speaking in Kafur during a grand reception in his honour,  said the Shema-led administration left behind an empty treasury with huge debts.

Masari said the debt included N6.2 billion as gratuity for local government staff and N3.2 billion as gratuity for state civil servants noting, “In two years, five months, the sum of N11 billion was stolen from the coffers of local governments”.
He said his administration would ensure it fulfils all the campaign promises made so as to restore the lost glory of the state assuring that his government would be guided solely by what the people want.

Masari said he had dispatched a team to visit all primary schools and health centres in the state to assess their true state before concerted efforts would be made to put things in proper perspectives.
The Governor, who lauded people of his native Kafur for the reception said arrangements had been concluded to empower 60 female and 40 male from each of the political wards in the state as part of an aggressive economic empowerment programme.

In a brief speech, the national chairman of APC, John Oyegun, said the reception heralded the change that Governor Masari would bring for the state noting, “We know the level of thievery and ill governance that took place in Katsina State but salvation is here as Governor Masari will salvage the state”.

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