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19 Sep 2017

Stop blackmailing us over unpaid salaries, Buhari’s aide tells state governments

The federal government has advised state governments to desist from blackmailing it over unpaid salaries and allowances of their workers and pensioners.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, gave the advice when he featured at the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja.
He said it was disheartening that some state governments still owed workers their salaries in spite of the bailout funds and shares of Paris Club Refund given to them by the federal government.
Mr. Enang said that the governments always misinformed their citizens, especially workers, about the availability of funds to pay salaries and the arrears as well as pensions.
He stated that the bailout funds were given to the states out of concern of the federal government for the workers, given the level of outstanding salaries and pensions to them.
The presidential aide lamented that in spite of the efforts of the federal government in that regard, it was being blamed for the predicament of workers in the states over the accrued salaries.
“The President is always very positively emotional when it gets to the welfare of workers and other citizens of the country.
“He has been doing whatever he can to ensure that those who are working get paid by providing the bailout, because when the workers get paid, they will generate something that will also affect the unemployed.
“But, the way some governors have used it has made it very dampening,’’ he said.
The presidential aide urged people in the states to always ask their governors questions about funds.
He also called on Houses of Assembly in the states to rise to the occasion by holding the governors accountable.
“Some states do not have budgets. Even those who have budgets do not make them public.
“Yet, in other states, governors will sign the budget with only one copy which is kept by them.
“Most states in the South-South, to the best of my knowledge, do not have their budgets in public domain.
“You cannot go online and see the budget; you cannot see the budget printed in the printing press and you cannot go to the House of Assembly and see the votes and proceedings of budgets passed.
“You cannot ask the speakers of those houses of assembly or the clerks to oblige you of the votes and proceedings, showing what was passed.
“It is like a secret and so, the citizens are kept in the dark,’’ he said.
According to Mr. Enang, unless budgets are made public, it will be difficult to know the amount of money earmarked for capital and recurrent budgets as well as for security vote.
He said that while some governors blamed the federal government for their predicaments, they had failed to appropriately credit it with projects completed with the funds it gave them.
“For 17 years now, democracy has been in place and states have been receiving money from the federal government, investing the money in many projects and programmes and they ought to have started yielding dividends.
“For the citizens, whenever a project is carried out in the states, they should find out if the Certificate of Occupancy of the land is in the name of the government of the state.
“This is because whatever is in the land belongs to the owner of the land. Ask of the shareholding structure.
“If the governor says I have used so much money to build a syringe factory, for instance, find out how much of the state’s fund is in that.
“Has the shareholding been registered as saying that the state has the investment in that project?
“If you do not ask, it may be in the name of any crony or they say it is a trust. Who are the shareholders in that trust?
“Do not wait until the governor leaves and then you go to EFCC. What were you doing when these things were happening,’’ he said.
Mr. Enang urged governors to always declare their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR for accountability, adding that it was not enough to declare only federal allocation.
He further urged sitting governors to be careful in their conducts, saying that their immunity was only from prosecution while in office.
According to him, they will be held accountable after their tenure.

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