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We’re Yet To Get Bailout –Governors

Governors Say The Central Bank Of Nigeria Is Yet To Act Effectively In Response To Bailout Funds Approved By The President For Them

Workers owed salaries across the country may have to wait longer as the money promised by President Muhammadu Buhari as bailout to debtor states, is yet to be released to them.

Workers in the states had jumped for joy when recently it was announced that the President had approved bailout funds amounting to about N414 billion, to enable states settle salary arrears running into billions of Naira.

It will be recalled that President Buhari had also approved a debt relief plan for the states as worked out by the Debt Management Office, to help States streamline their commercial loans, put at about N660 billion.

The debt relief plan is also expected to help states extend the lifespan of such loans while reducing their debtservicing expenditures. But Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari, who has been mediating between the states and federal government, could not say when the funds will be released to the states.

Speaking yesterday after meeting with Vice President Yomi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Yari said the meeting was to “follow up and know how far they have gone with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”.

“In our last meeting with the President, we agreed in the National Economic Council that there will be a special intervention from the Federal for the state that cannot be able to foot their salary arrears to their workers”, he said. He noted that the funds will be shared amongst the three tiers of government.

“This is a pressing burden, both the states and Federal government, were affected by the unpaid salaries. Because this issue of unpaid salaries is not only for the states, even the federal government is suffering the same thing.

“So, we followed up to know how far they have gone with the CBN Governor and now we have gotten the brief that the CBN governor is out in Washington and immediately he comes back, we are going to take up the matter to see the end to issue of unpaid salaries to the workers”, he explained.

About half of the 36 States of the federation were owing workers salaries put at over N110 billion. States like Osun, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Benue and Bauchi, are said to be worst hit. Part of the money was the $2.1 billion (about N497 billion) sourced from recent LNG proceeds to the Federation Account.

As part of the package, Federal Government had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to arrange a special a intervention fund of between N250 billion and N300 billion, to serve as a soft loan to states to settle salary arrears.

Speaking also on lead poisoning in the state, Governor Yari said the state was able to overcome the challenge through proper education of its citizenry. “You see the issue of lead poisoning in the past is about education.

Our key youths are unemployed and they are looking inwards to the resources at their back yards how they are going get employed.

So, they did the mining without directive. “When this happened in2010, many international groups, friends and donors like DFID, World Bank and World Youths Organization, among others, gave them support.

“If these guys cannot stop the mining, we should find a way of providing a better mining technique as safety mining techniques, so that this lead poisoning will not happen again. “So, we have been working tirelessly with the foreign supporters and lead poisoning has come to an end”, he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                  -Tony Ailemen, Abuja


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