Bailout: States deny NLC’s misappropriation claim

The governments of Bayelsa , Benue , Ebonyi , Osun , Ekiti and Kogi states have refuted an allegation by the Nigeria Labour Congress that they failed to properly utilise their bailouts.
Some of them also said it wasn’ t true that they were owing workers ’ salaries.
As of June 2017 , the Federal Government had released a total of N 1 . 75 tn as bailouts to states , according to BudgIT , a civic organisation .
President Muhammadu Buhari had at the outset of releasing the funds to states said that they should use them to pay all outstanding workers ’ salaries.
However , the NLC President , Mr . Ayuba Wabba , had during a National Executive Council meeting of the Non- Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions on Tuesday said he was naming and shaming 10 state governments that refused to pay complete salaries to workers despite the bailouts given to them by the Federal Government .
Wabba had gone on to name the “guilty ” states as : Imo , Bayelsa , Ondo , Ekiti, Benue , Osun , Ebonyi , Zamfara , Abia and Kogi .
But speaking to Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the Ekiti State Governor , Ayo Fayose , through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media , Lere Olayinka , said even though the state owed workers ’ salaries, it wasn’ t because of mismanagement of the bailout funds.
The governor said there was no way the state could have mismanaged the funds as it involved labour leaders in the spending of the funds .
He said , “We cannot deny that we owe salaries; there are no two ways about it . The last bailout we received was shared by the labour leaders themselves .
“ They appropriated the money by deciding what it should be spent on . That was what we did in the state . So the NLC couldn’ t have said Ekiti State misappropriated bailouts; what it said was that Ekiti State owed and not that it misappropriated funds . ”
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi , also denied that the state mismanaged the bailout it got .
The governor ’s Chief Press Secretary , Emmanuel Uzor , said the state ensured it complied with President Buhari’ s directive in the disbursement of the funds by paying salaries, pensions and gratuities .
He added , “ Our utilisation of the bailout followed due process and transparency . A breakdown of the funds’ disbursement shows that N 1 bn was injected into the Bank of Industry as counterpart fund to get another N 1 bn for civil servants on interest - free rate . The bank already has business proposals from the Ebonyi State Government .
“ Another N 1 bn was set aside for the construction of a state - of- the - art shopping mall , in line with the government ’ s quest to have one . ”
Uzor further said the state government set aside N 500 m for the payment of pensions, gratuities and other allowances, while another N 508 m was invested in a stabilisation fund for the prompt payment of salaries.
Also , the Bayelsa State Governor , Seriake Dickson, described the NLC ’ s claim as “ lies and misleading . ”
Speaking through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr . Jonathan Obuebite , the governor said the state did not even apply for or receive any bailout to pay workers .
Obuebite , however , noted that workers were only owed some parts of the 2016 salaries when allocations from the Federal Government started declining .
The commissioner stated , “ For instance , the net allocations to the state in February , March, April and May 2016 were N 2. 98 bn , N 2. 16 bn , N 2. 42bn and N 3 . 45 bn respectively. These allocations , when matched against a monthly wage bill of over N 4bn , caused the inability of the state to meet its salary obligations .
“ Inevitably, salaries were owed in 2016 . However, throughout 2017 , the state has not owed any month . ”
Benue State Governor , Samuel Ortom, lampooned the NLC for not having discussion with the state’ s labour leaders before alleging his government owed salaries.
The governor , who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr . Terver Akase , said the labour leaders in the state were part of the committee that handled how the bailouts were disbursed .
Similarly, the Kogi State Governor , Yahaya Bello , had through his Director - General on Media and Publicity , Kingsley Fanwo , said the state did not mismanage the bailout funds , asking the NLC to always have “ verifiable facts rather than negative propaganda . ”
Addressing journalists in Lokoja on Thursday, Fanwo had said, “I don ’ t know where NLC got its information that we misappropriated our bailouts. The state government had a long time ago , published details of the utilisation of the said funds in national dailies and on the official website of the state . ”
Also , the Special Adviser to the Osun State Governor on Information and Strategy , Mr . Semiu Okanlawon , also disagreed with the claim of the NLC .
Okanlawon said, “There is no single negotiation , agreement , payment formula that workers are not part of in the state .
“ We are so confident that labour leaders in Osun could not have given any other information contrary to the fact that Osun has paid salaries and pensions up to the month of August and preparing payments for September based on the 100 per cent / 75 per cent / 50 per cent for Grade Levels 1 - 7 , 8- 10 and 12 - 17 respectively. ”