The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission will, in the next two weeks, release a report on the state governments’ spending of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund, The PUNCH has learnt.
A top operative of the commission, who confided in one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said the commission had been monitoring the disbursement of N243bn, which was the second tranche of the refund.
It was gathered that the commission started monitoring how the money was being spent immediately it was released to 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory two weeks ago.
The source said the zonal and state offices had been carrying out discreet investigations into the disbursement of the funds as was done when the first tranche was released.
The source said, “The commission is carrying out one of its constitutional responsibilities. Our offices in the states are monitoring the disbursement of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund.
“In the next two weeks or so, the commission will present the outcome of its findings to the public. That was what happened after the disbursement of the first tranche and it was well reported.”
Our correspondents learnt that before making its findings public, the commission would send a copy of its document to the Ministry of Finance, which is also compiling a report on the usage of the refund by state governments.
The Nigeria Labour Congress had two weeks ago said it had directed its chapters to monitor the disbursement of the funds in the states.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, had said the state governments should give priority to the payment of workers’ salaries and arrears of pensions and gratuities.
He had said the congress had directed its state chapters to liaise with the state governments on the funds and report back to the headquarters for discussion.
However, Ozo-Eson, when contacted said on Wednesday that the congress had not received any report on the money from the states.
He said the NLC expected that it would have the reports within the week.
He said, “We have not received reports from the states; hopefully within the week, we should have something. Since the money was released, NLC has not received reports from the states. When we do and collate, we will so indicate.”
The Federal Government had on July 18, 2017, released N243.79bn as the second tranche of the Paris Club refund to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory.
With the fresh release of N243.79bn, the amount so far disbursed to states as refund under the Paris Club loan is now N760.17bn.
The first tranche of the Paris Club refund was released in November 2016, with an agreement between state and federal governments that 75 per cent of the payment would be used to settle salary and pension arrears.
But in an interview, the President of the NLC, Aliyu Wabba, had said 10 states did not pay salaries regularly. He had alleged that many states diverted the Paris Club refund.
States yet to settle all salary arrears
Meanwhile, reports by our correspondents show that state governments still owe their workers.
It was gathered that the state governments claimed that the money was not enough to settle huge pension and salary arrears of workers.
The Edo State chapter of the NLC told one of our correspondents that it had yet to be officially informed by the state government about the receipt of the refund.
It also stated that no payment of outstanding salaries of local government workers and pensions had been made.
The state Chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, said the labour union would write to meet with the governor.
Ademokun said, “Nothing has taken place, but we are waiting. We will write so that the governor would invite and inform us.
“If that fails, we will take the next step. The core civil servants are not being owed; the problem is with the local government workers and pensioners.”
In Ogun State, the Chairman of the NLC, Akeem Ambali, said the state government had paid six months cooperative deductions owed workers.
He said other deductions, like the union deductions and bank loan remittances, were still being owed workers.
He said he learnt that the development was due to the fact that the state government got less than N10bn in the second tranche.
Ambali said the workers were hopeful that other deductions would be paid in due course.
He said, “The contributory pension is also still being owed. Workers are, however, hopeful that all will be paid.”
Last week, the Oyo State Government said it had approved the payment of April and May 2017 salaries for workers in the state from the second tranche and the federal allocation for June.
Chairman of the NLC in the state, Waheed Olojede, told one of our correspondents on Wednesday that he had a discussion with a representative of the state government and the representative assured him that workers would start receiving the money on Thursday (today).
“He said some banks might process the transaction earlier than others, but there is assurance that the money will start coming from Thursday,” he added.
Benue State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Godwin Anyan, said the state government had paid one month’s salary of workers from the second tranche of the Paris Club refund.
The Chairman of the NLC in Bayelsa State, Mr. John-Bipre Ndiomu, said the state government had paid its workforce one and half months’ salaries.
Ndiomu, who stated this in a telephone interview on Wednesday, said the civil servants in the state were still being owed four and half months’ salary arrears.
The NLC Chairman said, ‘‘The government has paid workers for one and a half months, though we agreed on two months. We understand that there is still a fraction that is coming, so we expect that another half month will be paid.
"The money that came to the state was N10bn; out of that amount, about N1bn went to the local governments. So, the money for the state is actually about N9bn.
"However, the N1bn is not enough to pay LG workers for one month, so the state government added about N300m so that the workers will also get one month.”
The Kwara State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Yekini Agunbiade, said the government released about N2.39bn from the N5.12bn of its share of the second tranche.
He explained that N1bn was released for the payment of the salary arrears of local government workers. He added that N1bn was for the payment of workers of State Universal Basic Education Board, while about N390m was released for the payment of salaries of workers in the state owned tertiary institutions.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, Agunbiade said the State Universal Basic Education Board workers were still being owed about five months’ salaries.
The Special Adviser to the Akwa Ibom State Governor on Labour Matters, Mr. Unyime Usoro, said he was not aware of any directive from any quarter, asking states to use 75 per cent of the Paris Club refund to pay salaries and pensions.
Usoro said, “I am, however, aware that the Federal Government has encouraged states to use part of the money to settle outstanding workers’ entitlements.
“I’m also aware that the Akwa Ibom State Government has concluded plans to settle the next batch of outstanding gratuities to retired public servants.”