FG May Probe Utilisation of Bailout Funds By States, Says Oni

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Segun Oni, has said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration may soon carry out a check on the utilisation of bailout funds by states to pay workers salary arrears.

The exercise which he said would be part of government’s efforts to ensure that salary arrears are eradicated, would try to assess the situation in order to know how much is left everywhere to be paid.

“We are doing something which people have not recognised as a cardinal signature of the progressives. We are trying to eradicate salary arrears. Past governments, particularly at the state levels owed salaries.

“This government has been trying to help them (states) pay the arrears and very soon we are going to have a check on how much is left everywhere to be paid. But substantially, a bulk of salary arrears is paid now,” he said.

Oni who spoke when he received the United Kingdom Member of Parliament for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, at the APC National Secretariat late Tuesday evening, said the bulk of salary arrears owed workers in some states had been paid through bailout funds provided by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He said the APC-led administration was working assiduously to totally eliminate salary arrears soon.
“The people who are owed salaries are mostly the downtrodden and when they are owed, you compound the poverty equation. We are working towards ensuring that in no distant future, arrears will be eliminated.

“The only way we can do it is through the bailout funds to states. Because we cannot control what the governor would do because he is chief executive, but when there are bailout funds, we believe that they will apply it to settle salary arrears,” he said.
Speaking on APC’s plans ahead of 2019 elections, Oni said the party is actively working to ensure that marginalised groups, particularly women and youth are mainstreamed in politics.

He called for greater participation of the youths and women in politics as a way to increase their representation in government and party structures.
“As politicians, we want to bring the youth in to become politicians early. When we encourage the young ones to be politicians early, in a few years, they will compete with anybody.

“They will equally boast of how long they have been in politics also and the men will know that they have to give way to them. That is one of the programmes that we believe we can benefit from your experience,” he said.
Oni told the visiting UK MP that the President Buhari APC-led administration had initiated several pro-people initiatives including the Home Grown School Feeding Programme and N-Power scheme to alleviate poverty and provide gainful economic opportunities for the masses.
He said government was open to ideas and best practices to develop the country, reduce poverty and productively engage its young population.
In her remarks, the UK MP, Osamor, narrated the challenges faced by her political party, Labour Party in the build up to the June 8 snap general election in the UK.

“One of the things which the Labour Party had to do to be successful in our last snap general election was to reach out to the people who are downtrodden, the people who are working for minimum wage or on contracts when they don’t know how often they will be paid.
“We had to look at all the issues and put a manifesto together which spoke to them. Because when we went into the snap general elections, as far as the commentators were saying, as far as people in our own party were saying, we were going to be in the dustbin of history, we would have to start again,” he said.