- Â Opposition urges Ajimobi, Fayose not to divert funds
James Sowole in Akure, Amby Uneze in Owerri, Ademola Babalola in Ibadan and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
It is no longer news that the federal government has released the third tranche of the Paris Club fund to state governments, as the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, thursday confirmed receiving N7 billion for the stateâ€™s own share of the latest tranche.
Okorocha also confirmed that the money would be used to clear 2017 outstanding pensions since according to him, the state government had earlier cleared all the past pension arrears up to December 2016 and promised to begin to pay the pensioners at the end of every month with effect from January 2017.
He said the government could not keep the promise following the steady and disturbing increase in the number of pensioners and the amount involved which snowballed into a staggering N1.5 billion even when some states with more population density pay about N500 million as pensions.
The governor maintained that the state government would also use part of the Paris Club money to pay salary, even though the state government does not have any outstanding salary to contend with since it had paid salaries up to the month of June 2017. He enjoined all residents to work for the progress and prosperity of the state.
Also, the Ondo State Government thursday confirmed the receipt of N7.03 billion as its own share of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund.
The confirmation of the receipt was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Segun Ajiboye, stating that at least 32.68 per cent of the fund would be earmarked for payment of local government workersâ€™ salaries arrears, while the state government would receive 67.32 per cent as its own share.
â€œBased on the agreement reached between the states of the federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance, 75 per cent of the share received by the state is devoted to payment of salaries and pensions while 25 per cent is devoted to capital projects.
â€œAs a responsive government, the present administration is committed to the use of funds for the purposes it was designed for.
â€œThe governor sought the support of the workers and the people of the state in his desire to lay a solid foundation for a prosperous state,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, a leader of the opposition party in Oyo State and chieftain of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Seyi Makinde, yesterday appealed to the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, to commit the recently released N7.9billion Paris Club refund to offset the salary arrears of the workers and also to embark on people-oriented projects that will improve the lot of the people of the state.
Makinde in a statement he issued in Ibadan, which was made available to THISDAY, argued that the state government should be considerate about the plight of the workers and ensure the immediate payment of their wages in order to ameliorate their suffering and by extension, â€œthe hapless Oyo masses.â€
According to him, â€˜â€™Even, the Bible and all the other holy books said you should not make your labourers suffer for their wages. We feel with the workers, and we shall wipe away your tears when you vote us into office come 2019.â€
In Ektit State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned the state Governor, Ayodele Fayose, against brainwashing Ekiti people on the fresh payment of Paris Club refund of N4.7billion, accusing the governor of plotting to divert the money to other sources.
The party alleged that the governor has been holding consultations with workers and other stakeholders on how to spend the money that was chiefly disbursed to pay salaries, describing the ploy as a way to delude the unionists