Many Nigerians would not know where Sao Tome is on the world map, given that the twin island country is of little, if any, strategic importance to Nigeria.

That however did not stop former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2004, from doling out $5 million as loan to that nation. Mr. Obasanjo also paid out $40 million as loan to Ghana same year.

Such were the frivolity and impulsiveness that characterized government spending since the return to democracy in 1999.

Between 2004 and 2014, a catalogue of fuzzy loans was indiscriminately granted in off-budget spending to government agencies in what appeared an attack on the nation’s oil savings.

Extra-budgetary sums were dispensed in the name of loans to the foreign countries, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector General of Police (IGP), the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Ministry of Defence and other agencies.

According to PREMIUM TIMES, minutes of the December 2014 meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) Post-Mortem Subcommittee show that these funds were discretionary, off-budget loans paid out of the Reserve Accounts especially the 0.5% Statutory Stabilization Fund.

According to the report, the loans granted by Mr. Obasanjo to Ghana and Sao Tome came from the Statutory Stabilization Fund Account.

Over N18 billion was also taken from the reserve account as loan to the Federal Government for its Pioneer Consumer Car Scheme for public servants in paramilitary agencies.

In August 2006, the then President Obasanjo granted N4.58 billion as the first loan while the second and third tranches of N2.8 billion and N10.76 billion were granted in May and December 2007 respectively under the President Umaru Yar’Adua administration.

From the Statutory Stabilization Fund Account, Mr. Obasanjo had pulled out N300 million for IGP to purchase vehicles. In June of 2006 N242.6 million was paid out. Between June and October, two other loans were granted for the same purpose to purchase apparently another set of vehicles.

The amounts were N33.9 million and N32.6 million respectively. Separate loans of N4.57 billion and N1.6 billion, dated February 14 and April 3, 2007 were tagged “Loan granted to Fund for 2006 Virement”.

Notwithstanding provisions already made in the budget, INEC, on two occasions, was granted loans to fund the 2011 and 2015 general elections. In May 2007, over N66.7 billion was given to INEC to fund the 2011 General Election. In December 2013, N3 billion was withdrawn from the Statutory Stabilization Fund Account and given as loan to INEC to speed up its readiness for 2015.

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