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Our S’Arabia trip followed due process, say northern govs

Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima
Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima

THE Northern States Governors’ Forum yesterday explained that its trip to Jedda, Saudi Arabia, to solicit for loan from the Islamic Development Bank followed due process.

A statement by Malam Isa Gusau, spokesman to Governor of Borno State and Chairman of the 19 Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, was in reaction to remarks by the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts Senator Shehu Sani published in several newspapers on Monday.

Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District, had allegedly said the northern governors “cannot just jet out to Saudi Arabia to solicit or collect loans without following the due process of the law and the law further states that state governments and their agencies wishing to obtain external loans shall obtain Federal Government’s approval in principle from the Federal Ministry of Finance.”

Gusau explained that Governor Kashim Shettima had in November 2015, acting on behalf of the Forum, wrote a letter to the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, seeking consent and request for facilitation to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

It continued: “The Federal Ministry of Finance then wrote to the IDB in Jeddah, which culminated in the trip by the delegation of the Northern Governors. In fact, it was the Federal Ministry of Finance that obtained visas for the delegation of the Northern Governors, through its correspondences with the IDB. The IDB had written to the Saudi Government, and requested visas for the delegation, which were then issued by the Saudi Embassy in Abuja with all passports only released to the Federal Ministry of Finance.

According to the Forum, “It is also important to say that because the Northern Governors’ Forum were strict on due process, a Deputy Director at the Department of International Economic Relations who is also the Desk Officer in charge of the Islamic Development Bank, IDB, at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, was included by the Northern Governors as part of their delegation.”

“The inclusion of that Deputy Director was a novel step that made the entire trip a hitch free one given the fact that the Federal Ministry of Finance was not only directly involved in all the discussions held between the Governors and top executives of the IDB but even provided all the policy guidelines required by the Governors including addressing grey areas wherever they came up,” the statement stated.

“It will be good to also explain that the trip was not just about accessing loans. The north has the poorest persons in Nigeria based on series of Human Development Index reports by the World Bank. The trip was intended to get the poor citizens in the north to benefit from opportunities especially with our serious crisis of Boko Haram insurgency, malnutrition, which result in maternal and infant mortality among others.

The IDB has many opportunities and this is why the Northern Governors did not only meet with the Bank’s President, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali and Vice President, Operations, Dr. Mansur Mukhtar but also held far reaching discussions with heads of subsidiaries like the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, ITFC and the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment & Export Credit (ICIEC) among others.