Even as different reactions trail the removal of the subsidy placed on petrol by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, an investigating report showing how funds from the removal of subsidy by the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan was squandered has been revealed.
An investigation conducted by the the International Centre for Investigative Reporting icirnigeria.org has revealed that over N16 billion of Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funds released by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2012 for the Public Mass Transit Revolving Fund (PMTF) was misappropriated.
These are 10 things noteworthy from the investigation.
- The funds from SURE-P were issued as a revolving loan by The Infrastructure Bank (TIB) which was given to 31 beneficiaries in the form of 1,1179 vehicles under a scheme which allows them to pay back over 4 years.
- Even though 4 years has elapsed since the initiation of the loan, only ABC Transport PLC and Young Shall Grow Transport Limited have fully repaid their loans out of the 31 beneficiaries.
- The total cost of outstanding repayment was N4,586,088,671.63 as at December 2015 with 15 companies listed as chronic defaulters. As at instance of reporting, the accrued amount would have increased.
- Some of the entities accused of defaulting are National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), which got N2.3 billion; Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), N403,487,239; Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), N370,738,460; Greenline Bus, N370,500,000; Global Ginikana, N295,290,190 and Classic Link Express, N123,500,000.
- Some sources revealed that some of the beneficiaries of the loan believed they were doing the Jonathan administration a favor by helping it out of the fix the protest against the removal of the fuel subsidy put the government into.
- Investigations by the icirnigeria.org revealed that the scheme was compromised by stakeholders, including the beneficiaries, TIB and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
- Most of the defaulters cited supply of substandard vehicles as the reason they could not meet up with the loan repayment. They claimed they were supplied Hyundai and IVM Innoson vehicles which were not okay for commercial use as opposed to Unlike Mercedez, Leyland and Toyota vehicles.
- Najim Yasin, National President of NURTW said the Union was convinced to accept the vehicles as a patronage of the Jonathan administration and that of the 234 mass transit buses given to the NURTW, less than 65 were Toyota vehicles, the others were Hyundai and Innoson buses that broke down within the first month of operation.
- On May 22, 2012, the NURTW wrote to TIB rejecting all the Hyundai and Innoson buses given to it by the bank because they were not good for transportation business. They also, on July 1, 2015 wrote to the TIB: “We reiterate the fact that our good intentions to defray the loan have been hampered and challenged by the fact that these vehicles are mostly grounded due to their inferior and sub-standard qualities. Others are accidented, and despite the fact that we have sent several claims for insurance cover/payment on the buses, these claims have not been paid by the consortium of insurance companies solely appointed by you.”
- Also Global Leasing Limited got over N2 billion loan from the scheme. It got the first loan of N1,058,300,000 or 60 buses (one billion, fifty eight million, three hundred thousand naira) on January 20, 2015 and a second one of N1,005,337,500 or 60 buses (one billion, five million, three hundred and thirty seven thousand five hundred naira) on December 24, 2015.
- Meanwhile, Intermission Global Investment Limited, the firm that got the largest loan of N2,999,053,575 (206 buses) from TIB in March, 2015 was incorporated in 2009 strictly for construction purposes. The company’s ownership changed in June 2014 on the same day that it turned its attention from construction business to mass transportation.
- Some of the beneficiaries, including the NURTW and RTEAN, have dragged TIB to court for requesting that they repay the loan while insisting that the bank deliberately supplied poor quality vehicles against their complaints which made it nearly impossible to repay the loan.
Some things are beyond belief. Or maybe not.