Ex-Governor denies diverting Kwara SUBEB funds

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Immediate past governor of Kwara State, Mr Abdulfatah Ahmed has denied allegations that his government diverted funds meant for the Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board (Kwara SUBEB) in 2013.

His successor, Abdurrahman Abdurrazaq had on Friday claimed that the Ahmed administration diverted some funds close to about N1.5 billion released but did not use it to fund the improvement of school infrastructure as envisaged.

A copy of a document shared with EduCeleb.com detailed why Kwara SUBEB got blacklisted from further accessing UBE funds ever since. The then government was asked to refund the balance of the allegedly diverted money totaling about N450 million in order to access over five years of available funds totaling N5 billion.

But Ahmed said that the sum of about N1.5 billion meant to improve school infrastructure in the state were utilised accordingly blaming the recession for the state’s inability to access Universal Basic Education intervention funds since 2013.

In a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesperson, Dr Muyideen Akorede on Saturday, he absolved his administration of any wrongdoing regarding the management of the counterpart funds between Kwara SUBEB and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

He, however, maintained that the federal agency essentially cancelled a N2,090,101, 208 grant to the state when the government borrowed from SUBEB its fifty-per cent counterpart fund of N1,045,050,604, for the payment of salaries at the height of the 2015 economic recession which prevented most states in Nigeria from meeting salary obligations to workers.

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While stressing that the government’s temporary borrowing of the counterpart fund for salaries was based on its concern for workers’ welfare and a commitment to repay from then expected refunds from the federal government, the statement added that the administration had part-refunded the money but was prevented from paying the balance of N450m from funds received by the administration in the last days of its tenure due to its accounts being frozen.

The statement emphasised that the school projects implemented with the partly-refunded grant are available for verification at the appropriate government agency but denied knowledge of UBEC blacklisting the state government during the former administration’s tenure.

“The administration of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed categorically refutes claims that it mismanaged or diverted UBEC counterpart-funded grants to the Kwara State government during its tenure,” the statement read in part.

“For clarity, UBEC grants are recurring annual federal educational grants to state governments accessed after payment of specified matching counterpart funds.”

“Owing to the huge amounts normally required as counterpart fund, the government usually relied on extraordinary financial inflows such as federal government refunds or bank loans to access the matching grant from UBEC.”

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“This is because using monthly federal allocation for such payments will have severely hampered the government’s capacity to meet salary and other commitments.”

Part of the allegation leading to UBEC blacklisting Kwara SUBEB was its operation of multiple accounts. Ahmed, in the statement admitted that the state often borrowed loans to take care of its counterpart funding of the UBEC matching grant.

“We must also emphasise that as UBEC matching grants were treated as separate yearly transactions, the government often secured loans for counterpart funding the grants from different financial institutions annually, hence the existence of multiple bank accounts for this purpose.”

“At the height of the economic recession of 2015, the Kwara State Government, in a bid to access the 2013 tranche of UBEC grant, secured a N1,045,050,604 loan from a bank as counterpart fund for an N2b matching grant in favour of SUBEB.”

“However, faced with a sustained drop in federal allocation, the state government borrowed its share of N1,045,040,604 from SUBEB for salary payment, with a commitment to refund once an expected financial inflow was received.”

“Having SUBEB then used the balance N1,045,050,604, to pay for school rehabilitation projects. Details of projects are available for verification at SUBEB.”

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“When it became aware of the state government’s utilisation of its counterpart fund for salary payment, UBEC essentially cancelled the transaction and insisted on repayment of its N1,045,050,604 by the state government despite the fact that the money had been used for intended projects.”

“Notwithstanding, state government and UBEC agreed that the refund is made in instalments. The sum of N595,050,604 was subsequently refunded, leaving a balance of N450m with the administration committing to clear the balance on or before the end of its tenure.”

“Specifically, former administration planned to pay the outstanding N450m from a long-expected Road Project Refund from the Federal Government or from May 2019 Allocation but was prevented from accessing the said funds in circumstances that remain unclear.”

“This anomaly of disallowing a sitting government from executing duly appropriated and approved expenditure is what prevented the former administration from repaying the balance of N450m to UBEC and executing other financial instruments that were not honoured by its banks for yet unexplained reasons.”

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