Top government officials confided in our correspondent that one of the commitments of the Federal Government, before the fund was released, was that an independent monitoring team would be set up to investigate the usage of the fund. The source stated that it was agreed with the governors that, apart from cash flow challenges, one of the overriding objectives for further release of the funds was the compliance of the states with an undertaking. The states were said to have agreed that 50 per cent of the fund swould be channelled to offset backlogs of workers’ salaries and pensions. The official, who pleaded not to be named as he was not officially permitted to speak on the matter, said, “The finance ministry is currently conducting a detailed review of the claims submitted by the state governors. “This is in order to determine the amount to be released in the next batch of payment, having released over N500bn in the first tranche. “Apart from the review of claims that is being done, the usage of the first tranche is being investigated by a team from the finance ministry and the report of the outcome of that compliance audit would be sent to the President for further action.” When asked what would be done to those states that failed to comply with the agreement guiding the usage of the fund, the source said, “There is already an undertaking that further disbursement of the fund would be based on the rate of compliance with the stated objective by the Federal Government. “The overriding objective for the release of the fund in the first instance is that 50 per cent must be used for payment of pensions and salaries in the states. “So, if that agreement is not being met by any state, then of course the government would not release more funds to such a state; what the Federal Government is trying to achieve with that refund is to stimulate the economy through consumer demand.” Attempts to get comments from the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, were not successful as calls to his mobile did not connect while a text message sent to him was not responded to as of 5:30pm.]]>

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