By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The much-talked about bailout to Kogi State has finally been approved as the state is expected to collect N20 billion as the first tranche this week out of N50 billion approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, made this known yesterday during this year’s May Day celebration which took place at the Township Stadium, Lokoja.
He said: “The reality we met on ground at the CBN was that the previous application made on behalf of the state by the last administration was fraught with irregularities and shoddily done. In a word, it was so badly done it could never be approved. We had to start from the scratch
“We are glad to announce that our efforts have paid off. This week, we received approval to draw down on the first tranche of our bailout funds from the federal government. This will amount to about N20billion. We will draw down on the balance of about N30billion as we meet the milestones for implementation of the first tranche as set by the CBN.”
He noted that the money is for salaries and emoluments of the workers, adding that by the time the state government fully disburses the bailout funds, disputes over outstanding emoluments would be over.
Speaking further, the governor pointed out that all sorts of tricks were devised by the previous administrations to short-change the state worker, stressing that the worst was of course the scourge of ghost-workers.
“Thousands of non-existent ‘workers’ paid from the state coffers thus bringing it under undue strain and leaving the real workers either totally unpaid or only receiving meagre percentages of their wages.
“I was a former federal civil servant. I was never owed salaries during my time in service. When we came into office, the workers were already on strike for at least six weeks. They were fed up with the then PDP government kleptomania, lack of transparency and disastrous policies.
“It hurt me that a so-called government could receive all the federal allocations due to it and still finds the heart to leave workers unpaid. I decided that my administration will be different,” he noted.
He said the state government was also been inundated with allegations of collusion between some labour executives and the past administrations in cheating the very workers they represent through corrupt practices.
“We will of course investigate it and anyone found culpable will have a date with the anti-corruption agencies. We are cooking something nice for Kogi people, I know the kitchen is getting hot but I promise you there will be no sacred cows. Let those who cannot stand the heat get out of the kitchen!” he warned.
Bello posited that he remains committed to improving the lot of workers by eliminating every scheme in the system designed to exploit and cheat them saying that the ghost-worker syndrome is an evil as his administration was committed to eradicating forever.
He therefore called on the members and leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Kogi State University chapter, to call off their ongoing strike and let the students go on with their education on schedule.
The governor promised them, and indeed all workers in the state that there was now some lights at the end of the tunnel.
Bello, who donated two buses to the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Onu Edoka, and Chairman of Trade Union Congress, Ojo Ranti, assured the workers in the state of his commitment to the welfare of the workers.
Earlier, the state Chairman of NLC, Onu Edoka, while delivering his speech, urged all workers in the state to remain calm and give their full support to the congress, as they are keenly watching the ongoing screening exercise by the state government and see their action.