FG Must Fulfill School Feeding Promise without States’ 40% Contribution, Says Fayose

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  • Says N1.2bn monthly deduction from allocation responsible for non-payment of salaries

By Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has insisted that the school feeding programme of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government must be done without the proposed 40 per cent counterpart funding from the states.

He said: “The federal government is already looking for excuse for the impending failure of the programme by asking states to contribute 40 per cent to the scheme.” 

The governor, who said the school feeding programme was purely a contract between the APC-led government and Nigerians, asked that: “Were the states consulted before the APC made the promise during the presidential campaign? How can you make a promise and win election on the basis of that promise and now expect states to help you to fulfil the promise? That to me is a fraud!”

 The governor said in a statement issued yesterday by his Special

Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, that Ekiti State and other states deserved to benefit from the programme without assisting the federal government with any 40 per cent counterpart funding.

 Fayose said the federal government should rather blame itself for failing to do proper study on the practicability of the scheme before promising Nigerians instead of looking for who to blame for not fulfilling the school feeding promise.

 According to him, “Apart from the fact that Ekiti State lacked the wherewithal to provide counterpart fund for such a programme, it is  the duty of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party that won election on the basis of their promise to give free meal to school pupils to fulfil the promise without placing any burden on other tiers of government.

 “Nigerians should come to term with the reality that the federal government is already looking for an alibi for the impending failure of the school feeding programme.

 “The federal government knows that 80 per cent of the states lack the financial will to contribute the 40 per cent counterpart fund for the programme, and the time the programme eventually fails, Nigerians will be told that it failed because states did not key in to it.

 “As for us in Ekiti State, we are interested in the programme because Nigeria belongs to all of us. But we won’t contribute any counterpart fund because the programme is solely an electoral promise of the APC and we were never consulted before the promise was made. We don’t even have the capability to make any financial contribution even if it is 10 per cent because our financial condition is such that we can’t even pay workers salary.”

Meanwhile, a socio-economic group in the state, the Nigeria Progressive Vanguard (NPV), has concluded arrangement to embark on a mass protest against the state government over failure to pay workers’ salaries. 

The group lamented that the hardship being faced by the workers was “worrisome, embarrassing and uncalled for” and consequently gave the state governor, Fayose, a 72-hour ultimatum to pay the workers or face mass action.

 In a statement by its state Chairman, Bamayi-Lawal Adegoke, and Secretary, Tayo Ojo, the group said the situation at hand calls for broad intervention to save the state and its people from dire consequences. 

“The NPV sympathises with workers in the state over their current ordeal. It is unfortunate that the present administration can resort to maltreatment as a compensation for their support and loyalty towards the government since its inception,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, Fayose has said the huge debt profile inherited from the immediate past administration which took N25 billion bonds from the capital market and also took N31 billion commercial loans is responsible for the poor financial condition of the state and the challenges faced in the payment of workers’ salaries.

 The governor who stated this while reacting to the no-shift- ground stance of the striking workers, said about N1.2 billion is being deducted monthly from the state allocation to service the loans which the Governor Kayode Fayemi administration took in the course of his four years in the saddle.

 The governor opined that if the N1.2 billion being deducted is added to the state monthly allocations, his administration will not owe workers. 

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, in

Ado-Ekiti yesterday, Fayose took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress (APC) which he said had been lingering the labour to remain adamant on the issue of the strike.

 He said it was quite unfortunate that the Fayemi administration also diverted the N850 million meant for the State Universal Basic Education Board, thereby leading to the suspension of the state from the Universal Basic Education Commission programmes since 2012. 

Fayose said he was surprised that when Fayemi took the loans which now made payment of workers’ salaries difficult, the labour did not kick against the moves.  

The governor said the strike had been politicised because of his criticism of the bad policies of the federal government and his fight against tyranny.

He wondered why some states where workers are owed more salaries than Ekiti are still witnessing the understanding of the situation by labour.

 Explaining further, the governor said when he assumed office on October 16, 2014, he negotiated with the creditor commercial banks for moratorium of nine months which enabled him to pay salaries regularly.  

He said when the moratorium expired, coupled with monthly deduction of N1.2 billion and the dwindling monthly allocations, three months allocations became grossly insufficient to pay a month salary, subventions and other services.  

Fayose said the last administration inflated figures of the monthly IGR for political reasons giving the labour wrong information and false hope.  

According to the governor, “A state like Ekiti without any industry, Fayemi administration said that it realised between N600million and N700million monthly from IGR whereas in the actual sense Ekiti State IGR had never gone beyond N300million or N350million monthly.”

 Fayose said he was surprised that the labour which praised him for transparency was now blackmailing him as if he had kept the state money somewhere. 

He continued: “Immediately I was sworn in, I constituted a committee which shares allocations coming to the state. I made the Head of Service to head the committee. The labour leadership are members of the committee.  I only sign recommendations brought to my table by the committee. I wonder why the labour leadership is now pretending not to know the finances of the state.

 “The labour is asking me to go and look for money to pay them. From where? The state has nothing to stand as collateral. What I don’t have, I cannot give. You don’t give what you don’t have. From day one, I made open the finances of the state because I had envisaged a period like this.”

 Fayose advocated for a law which would prohibit any governor from borrowing beyond his tenure, saying: “During my first term, I did not borrow a dime to run the state, I paid salaries on 22nd of every month. When I was going in October 2006, I left N10.4 billion in government coffers.

“Therefore, the labour should hold the Fayemi administration responsible for the economic woes in the state and stop castigating me. 

“As a responsible governor, the state cannot be financially buoyant and I will refuse to pay the workers. A child cannot ask a good father

for fish and the father will give him stone. I have been sounding the warning about the nation’s economy since last year. When the monthly allocations started to nose dive, I took labour leaders into confidence and explained the situation to them. We even agreed to go

round the 16 local government areas last year where we told everybody what was happening.”  

 

“I appeal to workers to know that Ekiti State is our own and that there are states with worse situation as per salary payment and their workers are still on their jobs. Some states which earn oil derivation funds are not better than us. I appreciate Ekiti workers and I urge them to also see reasons with me.”