Kogi lawmakers boycott sitting, Senate probes state’s $500m loan

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Kogi lawmakers boycott sitting, Senate probes state’s $500m loan

Members of the Kogi State House of Assembly are boycotting sittings in protest against the alleged state government’s refusal to pay the backlogs of their salaries and allowances.

The House had adjourned plenary session two weeks ago and was expected to resume on Tuesday, but the scheduled session could not hold as many members were seen saying, “no money, no sitting.”

Investigation revealed that the members did not in protest against the non-payment of their long overdue allowances.

One of the members who didn’t want his name in print confirmed that the House could not continue sitting without their allowances which the governor promised to pay but failed to do so.

The source further confirmed that the state government only paid 75% of their constituency allowance in 2017 while they had not received any payment for 2018.

He said the governor gave them assurance before the state received the last Paris Club refund but failed to pay them when the money was received.

The source confirmed that despite the plea of the Speaker for the members to attend plenary session, majority of them left the Assembly complex.

Most of them said the speaker had been pleading with them since January and nothing happened. They vowed not to sit until the constituency allowance was paid in full, saying they needed the allowance to impact their constituency positively via constituency projects.

The House could not form the quorum needed to sit.

Efforts by our correspondents to get the reaction of the Speaker through his Chief Press Secretary, Femi Olugbemi, proved abortive as his phone numbers were not connecting as of the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday directed its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts to investigate an allegation that the Kogi State Government was planning to borrow $500m (about N180bn) from the United Arab Emirates without approval by the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, asked the committee to ascertain if the loan had been taken.

Saraki gave the committee 48 hours or five days maximum to present its findings to the Senate.

The decision to carry out the investigation was taken based on a motion raised by Senator Dino Melaye from Kogi West.

Citing orders 42 and 52 of the Senate’s standing rule, Melaye had claimed that the state government was planning to get the loan with illegal support of of the Federal Ministry of Finance under an arrangement called debt refinancing.

He said, “It is disastrous for a state, whose debt already stands at N40bn, secretly planning to borrow N180bn.

“What it means is that the government is borrowing to pay borrowed money,” he said.

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