Governors of the 36 states of the federation yesterday insisted that the deadlock in the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) will continue unless the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) remits what is due to the account.
The governors under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) met in Abuja on Wednesday night to deliberate on the issue of FAAC, the minimum wage being contemplated by government, among other issues. The governors resolved that until the NNPC remits what is due to the federation account for the month of June, the deadlock cannot be resolved. The NNPC had remitted N147 billion into the Federation Account in May, but the governors were not satisfied with it, insisting that the correct amount be paid.
According to them, the money from the NNPC must reflect the current economic realities and prices of oil in the international market. Briefing journalists in the early hours of Thursday, chairman of the NGF, Governor Abdullaziz Yari of Zamfara State said the governors will not accept the figures form the NNPC. “There is a disagreement between the figures presented. I have been on the saddle for seven years and I have been attending NEC for the past four months and if I see discrepancies I should be able to tell”, he said. According to Yari, the agreement NNPC claims to have with state governors to remit a maximum of N112 billion per month was done when oil price was $48 barrel per day, adding that now, the price $78.
His words: “NNPC said it paid N88 billion for subsidy and in the month of June it said it paid N31 billion but it claimed N57 billion is for payment of subsidy in 2017. That is not acceptable and we won’t give the approval. You can’t just deep your hand into the public purse and take the money. You have to seek approval from the NEC or Mr President.
“And NNPC said they have N15 billion for miscellaneous, N9 billion for pipeline maintenance, N3 billion for crude loss; all these things are not approved by anyone. “NNPC is owned by the federal, states and local government. The states get 48 per cent, while the local government and federal government get 52 per cent. We have to agree that whatever we get, the federal government is getting 52 per cent. We are saying this money should be brought to the public for sharing.”
The governors also met with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to discuss the issue of the minimum wage. On the minimum wage to workers, the governors of several states asked for numbers from their colleagues to determine if they’d be able to pay or not.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Organised Labour is mounting pressure on several states to have a decision on workers’ wages. The forum, however, decided that its committee, which is headed by the governor of Kebbi State, with Rivers, Osun, Gombe, Jigawa, Anambra States as member, are to make their findings known to the Forum before a collective decision is taken on the minimum wage to workers. Justifying the Forum’s decision, it was argued that in the last seven years, there has not been any increase in the income of the nation and therefore, there should be no increase but a decrease if the nation’s purse is to be taken into consideration. It was however decided that if there are states that feel adequately buoyant to fulfill the minimum wage requirement, they are free to do so but are also advised to be mindful of the fact that doing so will bring Labour into collision course with governors who are unable to pay. The Forum was reminded that some governors have resorted to rationalising salaries by paying certain ministries and departments in one month and other ministries and departments in another month, just in order to ensure that they do not renege on their obligations to their workers.
All states were advised to submit a ten year data of their audited accounts to enable the committee determine the strength of each state financially in order for the committee to come up with a realistic figure that could be borne by all states.
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