11th September, 2015
Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger State, northcentral Nigeria, has uncovered the withdrawal of N70 billion cash by a few officials from two bank accounts of Government House in the state.
He made this known while announcing the reduction of the state’s ministries from 23 to 14 in a broadcast on Thursday night, during which he also announced the reduction of the number of permanent secretaries from 54 to 25.
Bello further said the administration would pursue the issue of looted fund retrieval in line with regulations, adding that the committee on this issue had submitted its interim report.
“For example, an examination of only two bank accounts of Government House shows more than N70 billion cash withdrawals by a few officials who must explain the purpose for which the withdrawals were made.
“The operation of the Joint Account was characterised by diversions and misapplications of huge funds, especially those paid to Ward Development Projects and 10km Road Projects,’’ Bello said.
He said that N832.5 million of the 10km road project was transferred to Local Government Chairmen Forum, N75 million to Government House and N300 million to Office of the Secretary to the State Government.
The governor said that this accounted for why most of the 10km road projects were abandoned by the contractors.
He explained that the administration would continue to give priority to people-oriented projects and programmes.
Bello said that key areas of health, education and agriculture would be used as tools to uplift youths and reduce unemployment.
He said the Head of Service would provide further information on the reduction of the ministries and permanent secretaries, and noted that the decision was part of efforts toward reducing the burden of governance.
“We are not going to use the poor condition in which we met most institutions in the state as an excuse.
“I have embarked on strategic public sector reforms to strengthen the institutions of governance for the delivery of quality services that will improve the living standard of our people,’’ he said.