- Says Obla, presidential aide is rabble-rouser
The Cross River Government has clarified that contrary to speculations, the Paris and London Clubs’ refunds recently released to states by the federal government is indeed intact and has been set aside for the payment of outstanding salaries, pension arrears as well as severance benefits to past politicians in the state.
It also dismissed as pure fiction, claims by the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, that bailout funds given to the state were misappropriated.
A statement issued by Mr. Christian Ita, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, said the statement made by Obla was a mischief invented by a “busybody, rabble-rouser whose stock-in-trade is to peddle falsehood against political leaders in the state for narrow personal gains.”
It stated that for the avoidance of doubt, “the bailout fund was judiciously applied. The refunds from Paris and London Clubs paid to the state are intact. Not a kobo of the funds, which are lodged in a state government account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) has been touched.”
According to him, “The reason for this is that the governor has directed that the funds be used to pay severance allowances to past political office holders in the state as well as clear outstanding gratuity to retirees.”
The statement scoffed at Obla’s claims that local government employees were being owed salaries, insisting that nobody is owed salaries in the state except for some workers who could not be paid owing to technical hitches arising from a biometric verification exercise.
“In claiming that local government employees are owed salaries, he (Obla) conveniently failed to mention that due to the hitches with the biometric verification exercise, some local government employees have in the state have been paid salaries up to march, 2017, even when they are yet to earn it.
“It is pertinent to mention that the hitches are being addressed and local government workers are being paid their salaries in full for all the months that they are owed, which is due to no fault of the governor who has ensured that every local government is liquid enough to pay.”
The statement added that Ayade is today fondly called Salary Master by civil servants in the state on account of his ability to pay salaries ahead of time despite the decline in revenue allocation to the state.
“Indeed, even the organised labour last year conferred on the governor, the Most-Labour Friendly Governor Award in the country in recognition of his labour-friendly policies and transparent management of resources.”
While urging the presidential aide to concentrate on his job and answer to the many petitions that have flooded the Ministry of Justice on account of how he is doing his job, it reiterated that Cross River remains one of the best run states in the country with accountability as the article of faith.
Describing as worrisome, a familiar trend that has come to define the character of Obla, Ayade’s spokesperson said: “We have watched with grave concern Mr. Obla’s tendency to deflect focus from the subject matter each time he is on a national television, by engaging in what in journalism, is termed Afghanistanism. This practice is usually occasioned by memory loss or outright dementia, amnesia or a combination of both.”
Continuing, Ita said: “Since taking up an appointment in the presidency, Obla who is still severely being haunted by his past, has become inebriated by the office so much that his only contribution to his state is to incite the people against a sitting government. Like a man without honour, he has unashamedly been peddling falsehood in bid to pay his bills. He has failed in this regard before and definitely, he will fail again and again.”