Kogi Governor cries out over difficulty in accessing bailout funds; fingers APC guber candidate

Posted by News Express | 1 November 2015 | 2,741 times

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Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State has voiced out his frustration over the state’s inability to access the bailout funds despite meeting the requirements. Wada, in an interview published this morning by Sunday Vanguard, specifically accused the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21 governorship election in the state, Abubakar Audu, of being behind the reluctance by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release the money to his administration.

Said Governor Wada, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP):

“There are three categories of bailout out money. One is commercial bank exposure of the state governments’ debts over the years that is impacting on the revenue of the state governments and limiting their capacity to pay salaries. Mr. President approved the resolution of the National Economic Council to extend some funds to states to restructure their commercial bank debts.

“Kogi is one of the lowest states in terms of commercial bank debt exposure in the country. Our debt at that time was N816 million, less than a billion naira. Even as at today, it is about N700 million, that has now been restructured by the FG.

“The second category was salaries of workers. So, we compiled the outstanding salaries of our primary school teachers, local government employees and civil servants. Let us recognise that in Nigeria that there are three tiers of government, FG get their money directly from the Federation Account, state governments directly from the Federation Account and local governments directly from the account.

“In our case, they are supposed to remit N1.32 billion local government money every month for the payment of teachers’ salaries, while the balance is used to pay their workers as well as develop their areas. The state government has no interference in this, we have total autonomy in the operation of our LG system. There is a joint allocation meeting chaired by the Commissioner for Local Government, but the key members are the LG chairmen.

“What brought all this problem was the introduction of minimum wage. The FG agreed with the National Union of Teachers, the National Union of Local Government Employees and Nigerian Labour Congress to operate minimum wage. This minimum wage led to a phenomenal increase in Kogi salary liabilities. So when the money coming in could not meet the salary obligation, we reached an arrangement with our local unions that we couldn’t pay 100% but only 60%. So, since 2011, we have been paying 60% of the agreed minimum wage.

“So when the FG brought out this bailout package, they said states could apply to pay over 20 years period at 9% interest rate. We aggregated all our exposure in the outstanding percentage payment to our local government workers and teachers and applied for the bailout to clean it all out and give confidence that, it is because the money coming was not enough, that we could not pay full salaries. Kogi was one of the first states to apply with complete documentation, but many states that applied after us, some of them even copied our presentation, they have been given. I have gone to see the CBN Governor three times and I went to the President to complain that are we being delayed.

“We also applied for fund to cover pension liabilities and outstanding gratuities of our government. These liabilities are things I inherited, some of them existed from the creation of Kogi, but when this window was opened, the sensible thing to do is to use it to clean up the liabilities and move forward. We applied for the bailout and supplied all the documentation.

“The CBN approved and advertised the entire amount they have approved for all states. They said they approved N50.8 billion for Kogi in the following structure: N 4.9 billion for civil servants, about N23 billion for LG employees and about N21 billion for our teachers. They advertised it in the newspapers. They didn’t call us to say this is what they had approved. They started releasing to various states and didn’t release to us. So I went to the CBN Governor and asked that what is going on, he said they will soon get to us. At a critical meeting, he committed that within the following week, they were going to release the money, but up till now they have not.

“The next thing we know is for the APC governorship candidate in the state to be boasting in his campaign that they will not release the money until he becomes the governor; that he is going to win the next election and that APC is in charge of the Federal Government, that they have blocked the release of the money to Kogi.

“This is shocking because this country belongs to all of us; whether you are in APC or PDP, the interest of the people is why we come to public service. So, if you say you want to be governor of a state, why will you block what will improve the lives of the workers of our state? It will improve the economy because everybody that collects salary will buy one thing or the other, and that is how the money circulates to improve the lives of the people.

“I have done everything I can, which includes seeing the President, who said he had no problem authorising the release of the money, but why the CBN Governor has refused to release the money is what I don’t know. They asked us to bring biometric verification of the teachers and local government employees. We have done it. They asked us to bring BVN verification of these people, we collected those that have done their and told them that others have not because the time frame for BVN registration has not elapsed. Immediately, we wrote a circular to our employees and unions that they should they get their BVN as they will not be able to receive their money without it. I challenge the CBN to tell Nigerians, which other state they put through this type of process? This is injustice, it is unfair.”

•Photo shows Governor Wada.

Source: News Express

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