States have received another tranche of the Paris Club refund, it was learnt yesterday.
Ekiti, which got N9.5 billion in the first tranche, has received another N4.772 billion; Abia got N5.715 billion.The state received N11.4 billion in the first tranche. Governor Ayo Fayose’s Media Adviser Lere Olayinka confirmed Ekiti’s receipt of the second tranche. Commisioner for Finance Obinna Oriaku confirmed that of Abia.
But the total amount paid out by the Ministry of Finance could not be confirmed last night. Top officials of the ministry said they were waiting for clearance from Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun before giving out that information.
President Muhammadu Buhari initiated the refund to enable states meet their financial obligations, especially to workers and pensioners.
In the first tranche, a total of N516 billion was released to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Ministry of Finance spokesman, Salisu Dambatta, in a statement after the release of the cash, said: ”The debt service deductions are in respect 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.
“The funds were released to state governments as part of the wider efforts to stimulate the economy and were specifically designed to support states in meeting salary and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.
“The releases were conditional upon a minimum of 50 per cent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
Oriaku said what Abia got was lower than the N11 billion to N12 billion it was expecting. He added, however, that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had directed that despite “the shortfall, the funds should be committed wholly to salary arrears”.
He said the state could no longer meet up with its promise to clear all arrears of wages at the end of this month because of the reduction in its entitlement.
The shortfall, the commissioner said, would impact on the government’s plan to clear outstanding salary arrears as promised by the governor.
Oriaku said labour leaders were informed of the development at a meeting yesterday, adding: “Despite the shortfall, Governor Ikpeazu has instructed that the funds be committed wholly to salary arrears”.
He said the committee of government officials and labour leaders that shared the first tranche would also share the second tranche, adding that areas that needed more attention would be given priority.
According to him, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) workers were owed one month salary. Some agencies’ workers are owed much more, he added.
State NLC Chairman Uchenna Obigwe expressed concern over the development saying workers and pensioners were full of expectations.
Obigwe said they learnt from their colleagues in other states that the state that got the highest amount got N6 billion.