After allegations of fraud trailed the first release approved last December, Nigerian governors have pledged to judiciously utilise the second tranche of Paris Club refund recently approved by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, to offset a backlog of salaries and allowances owed civil servants in the states.
The refund is as a result of over-deductions from statutory financial allocations to the 36 states between 1995 and 2005 for debt servicing. The first tranche of the funds was released towards the end of last year for paying salaries, but some of the governors are said to have still defaulted in their commitment to workers.
The governors under the auspices of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, in a statement issued on Friday by the forum’s spokesman, Abulrazque Barkindo, said it is their resolve to offset all backlog of salaries and allowances owed their workers as soon as the second tranche of the fund is released.
The statement disclosed that all the 36 governors signed off to the agreement which was reached at a meeting held at the Abuja residence of Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State on Thursday night.
It reads, “The 36 governors last night resolved to offset the backlog of salaries and pension arrears owed civil servants in the country as soon as the next tranche of payment from the Paris-London Club loan refunds are made.
“This decision was arrived at in Abuja at a meeting hosted on Thursday night by the chairman of the Nigeria governors forum and governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar at his Maitama residence.
“The governors met in anticipation of the release of the other half of the Paris-London Club refund which has been gratuitously approved for payment by the Vice-President Professor Yemi Osibanjo. The funds are expected to hit the states accounts within the month.
“The governors who are not oblivious of the hue and cry over the non-payment of the backlog of salaries and pension arrears and the precarious predicament of the Nigerian worker deliberated on the matter and concluded that in order to set the country on the path of growth, something immediate must be done to ameliorate workers plight by offsetting the backlog of their pay and emoluments.
“We all agreed that a substantial amount from the next tranche of the Paris-London refunds be used in the settlement of workers salary and pension arrears.”
Barkindo disclosed that the governors also agreed to set up a committee to look into pending claims by consultants who worked on the Paris Club refund.
“There are litigations from more than ten different consultants still agitating for settlement for their roles in the quest to have the refunds made to states,” he added.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State will head the committee while Governors Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State are members of the committee.