By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja
All is set for the 36 states of the federation to receive the second tranche of payment from the Paris Club loan refund this month.
Accordingly, civil servants across the country have cause to smile as governors of the 36 states have resolved to offset the backlog of salaries and pension arrears owed them as soon as they receive their share of the money.
The decision was arrived at in Abuja at a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) convened by chairman of the forum and governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari at his Maitama Residence on Thursday night.
A statement issued by the head, media and public affairs of the NGF, Abulrazaque Bello- barkindo, noted that 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 Vice-President Yemi Osibanjo.
Bello- barkindo stated that the fund is expected to hit the states accounts within the month.
According to him, 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.
He said the governors resolved, as a matter of urgency, to pay workers their due as soon as this half of the Paris Club refund are made.
“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”, the NGF chairman, Yari was quoted as saying.
Out of the N522.74bn owed, N388.304 was paid to states last December.
At the NGF meeting, the governors said they were committed to the verification of the input of all the consultants who claimed to have worked towards the harmonization of the refunds regarding what is due to which state since 2005 when the demand for the refunds was made.
Governor Yari said, “At the moment, 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.
“In this regard, a committee was set up under the headship of Governor Femi Akeredolu of Ondo State with the governors of Bauchi, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar; Sokoto’s Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Plateau’s Simon Lalong; Bayelsa’s Seriaki Dickson; Rivers’ Nyesom Wike and former Accountant General of the Federation and Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo as members”.
The NGF chairman said the committee is expected to finally provide a solution to the demands by consultants on the Paris-London Club refunds to states.
He added that the forum also resolved to work harmoniously in a manner that would transcend all political affiliations so that all governors would speak with one voice on issues of national importance.
Yari continued: “To achieve this, a committee made up of the governors of Imo, Bayelsa, Abia, Ekiti, Kano, Nasarawa and Bauchi was constituted to work for the reconciliation of the forum and the betterment of the country“There is no how you’d mention any political development in Nigeria without mentioning governors. Governors are a bloc and a key component of this democracy.
“Therefore, we have set up a seven-man committee to look into the development surrounding the unity of the forum and the development of the country. The idea is for governors to be speaking with one voice”.