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Unpaid salaries/pensions: 14 states receive N153bn

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The Federal Government has credited the accounts of 14 states with a total sum of N153 billion for payment of outstanding salaries and pensions of workers and retirees and for other commitments.

It was confirmed on Friday that the payments were made on Wednesday with each of the states receiving between N10 billion and N14.5 billion.

Plateau State got N10 billion; Benue, N12.7 billion, Delta  N14.5 billion and Bayelsa, N14.5 billion. Lagos also got an undisclosed sum.

The five state governments confirmed the receipt of the money to Saturday Tribune on Friday.

Officials of Ogun, Osun and Ondo states did not respond to telephone calls and text messages sent to them by Saturday Tribune to confirm or deny receiving their states share of the refunds.

Calls and text messages sent to the media aides of Osun and Ondo state governors, Messrs Semiu Okanlawon and Kayode Akinmade, were not responded to. An aide of Governor  Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State directed Saturday Tribune to the Commissioner for Finance who did not pick his calls.

Plateau State

The Plateau State governor, Solomon Lalong, who announced the receipt of the money at a prayer event in Jos, asked workers to expect their outstanding salaries from next week.

Governor Lalong, who confirmed that N10 billion had been received assured all civil servants and pensioners in the state that all outstanding salaries and pension arrears would be cleared before the end of this month. He added that adequate provision has been made to effect the payment as from Monday next week.

“I can assure you that outstanding salary and pension arrears would be paid before the end of this year. As from next week many would begin to see alert of payment on their phones, it is a promise I made during my inauguration and it has to be fulfilled”, he said.

Benue State

Governor Samuel Ortom also said, on Friday in Makurdi that the N12.7 billion received by his government was based on the current official Dollar/Naira exchange rate, adding that the amount due to the state was $181 million, but owing to the prevailing economic challenges facing the country, the Federal Government agreed to pay 50 per cent of the money to the state.

Ortom further said he planned to meet with labour unions, next week, to discuss the utilisation of the funds, disclosing that the state had an agreement with the president that 50 per cent of the money should be dedicated to the payment of worker’s salaries.

“The money is to be used for arrears of salaries; we will be meeting with the labour unions on Monday to discuss how the money can be applied”, the governor said, adding that 45 per cent of the total money received was for the local governments.

Delta State

Chief Press Secretary to the Delta State Governor, Charles Aniagwu, said, “the state government got a little above N11 billion for the state government and a little above N3 billion for the local governments. This will total N14 billion and above.

Lagos State

Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the state got what he described as a “paltry sum” but refused to disclose the exact amount. He, however, said, “the remaining will be paid by the Federal Government in 2017.”

Bayelsa State

The Bayelsa State government confirmed receiving the sum of N14.5 billion. The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite, on Friday, said it became imperative to inform Bayelsans in line with government transparency and accountability initiative.

“In the light of this development, Governor Seriake D!ckson, has in line with his commitment to the people of the state, particularly the civil service and in accordance with the agreement reached for receipt of this refund, has directed accordingly that 50 per cent of the money received be used to pay pensions and full salaries for the month of October and November 2016, as soon as possible.”

Enugu State

Enugu State Commissioner for Information, Dr Godwin Udeuhele, said he should be given time to confirm if the state has received the N14.5 billion refund from the Federal Government.

Oyo, Kwara states

Oyo and Kwara state governments told Saturday Tribune that, although they were ‘hopeful’, but they had not received the money. It was learnt that the two states were not part of the 14 states that formed the first batch.

Commissioner for Information in Oyo State, Mr Toye Arulogun,and Senior Special Asssistant on Media and Communication to the Kwara State governor, Dr Muideen Akorede, separate reactions said their states had not received any payment.

Ekiti State

Similarly, Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, told Saturday Tribune that the state “had not received the money but I can confirm that we are expecting it. That other states have confirmed the receipt is heart-warming and we are expectant in Ekiti State”.

Edo State

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Mr John Mayaki, said the state was yet to receive such fund. He added that “the state governor will not hesitate to disclose the amount the moment the fund is received as the governor believes in ruling a transparent government.”

Kogi State

Spokesman to Kogi State governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the state had not received the refund but stressed that it was expecting the money which “legitimately belongs to the government and people of Kogi State.”

All efforts to reach officials of the other states were not successful on Friday.

Last week, it was announced that President Muhammadu buhari had approved N522.74 billion for the state governments to, among others, settle outstanding salaries and pensions of workers and retirees.

Of the amount, the Federal Government said N153 billion would be released to 14 states as part of “reimbursement of over-deductions on Paris Club loans from state governments.”

The Federal Government, in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the finance minister, Mr Festus Akanbi, said each state would receive a maximum of N14.5 billion in the interim which, it said, approximated to 25 per cent of the amounts claimed by the states.

“State governments have submitted to the Federal Government claims of over-deductions for external debt service arising between 1995 and 2002 as a result of the First Line Charge deductions from the Federation account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations.

“These debt service deductions are in repect of the Paris Club, London Club and multilateral debts of the Federal Government and states. While Nigeria reached a final agreement for debt relief with the Paris Club in October 2005, some states had already been overcharged…

“Mr President’s overriding concern is for the welfare of the Nigerian people, considering the fact that many states are owing salaries pensions, causing considerable hardship. Therefore, to ensure compliance with the directive that a minimum of 50 per cent of any amount disbursed is dedicated to this, funds will be credited to an auditable account from which payments to individual creditors would be made. Where possible, such payments would be made to BVN-linked accounts and verified”.

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