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Govs should be blamed for unpaid salaries – Okonjo- Iweala   


John Bull
@johnbull | Updated 02 Aug. 2018


The Federal Government onWednesday absolved itself ofblame in the inability of some stategovernments to pay their workers’salaries.It said the governors of such statesshould be blamed for thedevelopment in their statesbecause they were told throughthe Federation Accounts AllocationCommittee to make the issue ofwage a priority.The Minister of Finance Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala said this in astatement by her Special Adviser onCommunications PaulNwabuikwu.The statement was necessitated bythe All Progressives Congressgovernors’ claim that the negativemanner the outgoing GoodluckJonathan administration wasrunning the economy had made itdifficult for them to pay salariesregularly.But Okonjo-Iweala said that despitethe 50 per cent drop in grossfederally collectible revenue theFederal Government had made theissue of workers’ salaries a toppriority in order to ensure that the“people do not feel the negativeimpact of the revenue drop on theeconomy.”For instance the minister said thatcontrary to the “misinformationbeing put forward by certaingovernors to the effect that federalworkers are being owed staffsalaries at the Federal level are up-to-date.”She said in the five paragraphstatement that the states beingone of the three tiers ofgovernment that receive monthlyallocations from the FederationAccount should be blamed for theirpredicament.The statement read “This is toclarify the misinformation putforward by certain governors to theeffect that Federal workers arebeing owed salaries.“This is incorrect. Staff salaries atthe Federal level are up-to-date;workers have received their Aprilsalaries.“Regarding difficulties in salarypayments certain governors aretrying to blame the FederalGovernment for their predicament.This is wrong. They had been toldthrough the FAAC to prioritisesalaries but they chose not to do so hence the backlog that some statesare experiencing.“The 50 per cent drop in revenuessimply means that salaries shouldbe prioritised. The FederalGovernment should not be blamedfor avoidable mistakes made at thestate level.”The APC governors had during ameeting with the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja onTuesday expressed frustrationsabout their inability to payworkers’ salaries.They therefore appealed to Buharito consider a bailout plan for all the36 state governments after hisinauguration on May 29.They said “One of the issues thatbecame of concern to all of us is thestate of the Nigerian economywhich is really in a bad shape.“We have come to notify theincoming president of thechallenges ahead of him. As itstands today most states of thefederation have not been able topay salaries and even the FederalGovernment has not paid Aprilsalaries and that is very worrisome by May and June that (salaries) willbe in cumulative of three months.“We wonder with the hugeexpectation of Nigerians andpeople who have voted us intopower we are hoping that thepresident-elect will do everythinghumanly possible to bring about abailout not only for the states butthe Federal Government at leastfor people to get their salaries andturn around the economy.”The Nigeria Labour Congress had onApril 28 insisted that stategovernors must pay outstandingsalaries before the May 29handover date.The factional Deputy President ofthe NLC Peters Adeyemi said atthe ninth National Delegatesconference of the Medical andHealth Workers Union of Nigeria inAbuja that workers hadcommenced the campaign toprevail on the governors to payoutstanding salaries before May29.The National Administrative Councilof the NLC had on March 19 2015 setup a committee to compel stategovernments to pay over eightmonths salary arrears owedworkers.The congress had on December 31 2014 said that 11 states owedworkers salaries.Adeyemi said that workers shouldnot be made to bear the brunt ofthe mismanagement of theeconomy as they were not part ofthose who looted the treasury.