States get N244 billion as second tranche of Paris Club refund

Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Salisu Nainna Dambatta

• ‘N5.7b insufficient to pay Abia workers’
• Osun gets N6.3b, Ogun, N5.7b

The Federal Government has released N243.795 billion as the second Paris Club debt deductions to states.

The announcement was conveyed in a release issued yesterday by the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Salisu Nainna Dambatta.

A breakdown indicates that Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Kano states received N10 billion each while Lagos and Katsina got N8 billion apiece.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was credited with the lowest refund of N684.867 million.

He explained that the payment followed an earlier approval by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on May 4 this year. However, the Abia State government yesterday expressed displeasure over the N5.7 billion largesse it got, saying the sum was grossly inadequate to offset the backlog of salaries and pensions of workers.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had promised to clear the arrears this month end, hoping that the state was going to get a refund of between N12 and N14 billion.

But the Commissioner of Finance, Obinna Oriaku, after a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Umuahia, told newsmen that the pledge could no longer be wholly honoured.

He noted that the unforeseen development had further worsened the state’s financial dilemma, especially as it relates to the current administration’s obligations to workers.

The inadequacy notwithstanding, the commissioner assured the workers of the governor’s commitment to addressing their plight in good time.

According to Oriaku, priority would be given to those parastatals, departments and agencies which arrears are huge.

Reacting to the development, the state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, described the allocation as worrisome, adding that efforts would be sustained to ensure that the backlog was defrayed timely.

However, Osun State has confirmed a receipt of N6.314 billion. The information was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Osogbo by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Semiu Okanlawon.

Also, the Ogun government admitted getting a N5.7 billion refund.

According to the Commissioner for Finance, Wale Oshinowo, Governor Ibikunle Amosun has approved of N4.5 billion of the sum for the payment of outstanding cooperative deductions of workers.

Giving a further breakdown of expenses yesterday in Abeokuta, the commissioner said N3.4 billion had been disbursed to clear the six-month emolument of workers.

He further disclosed that N1.1 billion was also sanctioned to offset the three-month backlog of local council employees.

Meanwhile, Kogi chapter of the NLC has expressed lack of confidence in the state’s new pension scheme.

Addressing a session organised by the government for organised labour yesterday in Lokoja, the state chairman, Comrade Onuh Edoka, said workers open to a transparent scheme where the rules and remittances are unambiguous.

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