Governors Move to Douse Political Tension, Promise to Pay Backlog of Salaries

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  • But ties payment to next tranche of cash from Paris Club

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Governors of the thirty-six states of the federation have constituted a committee to work towards the reconciliation and the betterment of the country.

In this regard, the governors, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), said they have resolved to offset the backlog of salaries and pension arrears owed civil servants in the country as soon as the next tranche of payment from the Paris-London Club loan refunds were made.

A statement from the NGF statement reads: “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.

“The governors therefore resolved as a matter of urgency, to pay workers their due as soon as this half of the Paris Club refunds is 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.

“Out of the N522.74bn owed, N388.304 was paid to states last December.

Similarly, the governors committed to the verification of the input of all the consultants who claim to having worked towards the harmonization of the refunds regarding what is due to which state, since 2005 when the demand for the refunds commenced.

“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. 

The statement issued by the NGF’s Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abulrazque  Barkindo, added that it had set up a seven-man committee to look into the development surrounding the unity of the forum and the development of the country.

 “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,” said Barkindo.

The Chairman of the Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari said: “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.”

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. 

The 36 governors who met at Yari’s Maitama Residence in Abuja Thursday night resolved to carry out verification of claims by all the consultants who worked towards the harmonization of the refunds regarding what is due to which state, since 2005.

The governors met in anticipation of the release of the other half of the Paris-London Club refund which has been approved for payment by Vice-President Yemi Osibanjo. 

According to the NGF, the funds are expected to hit the states accounts this month.

The meeting agreed to set up a committee under the chairmanship of Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State with the governors of Bauchi, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Seriaki Dickson of Bayelsa, Nyesom Wike of Rivers and former Accountant-General of the Federation and Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo as members.

The committee is expected to provide a solution to the demands by consultants on the Paris-London Club refunds to states.