•Osun, Bayelsa, Kwara, Edo, others list priorities
Some states yesterday unfolded their plans for their shares of the N243.7 billion London-Paris Club refund. The windfall was released to the states by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday.
They listed outstanding salaries and pension arrears as priorities. Also on their cards are projects that would lift the living conditions of people in their domains.
The Nation learnt that many of governors announced what accrued to them to guard against misinformation. Some met with labour leaders to jointly agree on the disbursement.
We’ll put refund to proper use, says Edo’
After acknowledging receipt of N6, 091,126,592.49 as its share of the Paris Club refund, the Edo State Government yesterday promised to put the windfall to good use.
It was however silent on whether refund would be deployed in the payment of some pensioners who have sustained street protests in Benin, the capital city for the past five days.
The pensioners, made up of retirees from both local and state governments, have been appearing in red attires to protest the non-payment of their gratuities and entitlements.
Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Mr. Crusoe Osagie told our reporter that a statement would be issued on how the funds would be applied.
Osagie assured that the governor will not go against the rules.
Bayelsa to clear salarybacklogs
Dickson releases N919m to councils
The Bayelsa State Government yesterday confirmed receipt of N10 billion share of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund from the Federal =Government.
Governor Seriake Dickson made the confirmation in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.
According to the government, N919 million of the refund would go to the local government areas. Part of it, the government said, would be used to pay one and a half month salaries of civil servants.
The governor directed his Commissioner for Finance, Maxwell Ebibai to immediately release the local councils’ share.
According to Iworiso-Markson, the governor, who spoke in Yenagoa at a parley with labour leaders at the Government House, directed helmsmen at the council areas to use their portion of the windfall on their financial obligations, especially the outstanding salaries.
The governor warned that the money for the councils should be properly utilised and should not be shared by a few to enrich themselves at the expense of local government employees.
Dickson was quoted as saying: “I have directed that the money should be transferred to them latest tomorrow (Thursday). As for this money, let me make it clear that is not for them to share and chop. It is not free money. So, those who will be celebrating that money has come to be shared will be disappointed.
“One of the greatest problems we have in this state is the fact that people always think that any money that comes is free money for them to share and chop.
“They don’t want the state to be developed; leaders after leaders and years after years. Twenty years after the creation of the state, it is now we are building good schools and health institutions.”
He thanked the union leaders for their support and understanding, adding that the disclosure of the fund’s receipt was in line with his administration’s open policy on public finance since 2012.
He said: “You people should know me by now. I have been here for almost six years and any money that comes we always announce it.
“Month after month, we disclose our income and expenditure in the Transparency Briefing. And I think we are the only state doing that.”
The statement also quoted Information & Orientation Commissioner Jonathan Obuebite as saying that the labour leaders had agreed with the government that part of the money should be used to clear backlog of salaries.
He said: “I am happy to announce that after a peaceful, fruitful and candid meeting, it was resolved that the government will use part of the fund to pay one and a half month salary.
“Initially we had thought that it was N14 billion that will come in so we can pay two months but that was what came in. Pentioners are also going to be paid.”
The local chapter Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, John Ndiomu and his Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) counterpart, Tari Dounana, commended the government for disclosing the share of the state and for interacting with them to discuss on how to utilise the money.
They assured all workers that every outstanding salaries owed by the government would be paid to them and urged them to continue to do their best.
Kwara councils get N1b for salary arrears
Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has approved the release of N1 billion to local government areas in the state to offset part of their salary arrears, Finance Commissioner Demola Banu announced in a statement in Ilorin yesterday.
He said the N1 billion was part of the N5.1 billion received by the state government as its share of the Paris Club refund from the Federal government.
According to the commissioner, the N5.1 billion received by the state government was 12.5 per cent lower than the amount it expected from the Federal Government.
Banu said the balance of the refund would be used for projects and programmes designed to enhance the welfare and security of all citizens.
He also announced the release of N312, 191, 101.71 to tertiary institutions in the state to clear salary arrears.
The lucky institutions are: Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin; Kwara State College of Education, Oro; Kwara State College of Education (Special), Lafiagi; College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies, Ilorin; Kwara State School of Midwifery, Ilorin and Oke-Ode as well as Kwara State College of Health Technology, Offa.
Giving a breakdown of the amount, the commissioner said the payment includes: N126, 938, 104 as the sixth instalment of the state government’s intervention for tertiary institutions in the state.
The governor had approved the intervention in 2016 for the state-owned tertiary institutions as a palliative.
Continuing, Banu said the balance of N185, 252, 996 represents the third quarterly payment of subvention to the institutions, stressing that the final instalment of N378, 426,018 will be paid as additional funds become available.
He clarified that the N312.1 million would be used to pay salary arrears accrued at the tertiary institutions due to drop in allocations last year.
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