From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, has officially cleared the air on the allegation that his government diverted the recent Paris Club loan refund to uses other than what it was meant for.
The governor made the clarification while speaking to the people, on his monthly broadcast programme, on the Ekiti State Television, tagged: “Meet your Governor.’
Fayose explained that the Paris Club loan refund that came to the state was N8.8 billion out of which N5.4 belonged to the state government while N3.4 billion belonged to the local government. “Out of our own N5.4 we signed an agreement with the Federal government that 50 percent of it would go to human capital development by way of gratuities, pensions and salaries etc, all that could be described as remuneration for the labour force,” he said. “50 percent of our 5.4, which is N2.7 billion, so we used that to settle one month arrears of every entitlements to public workers, civil servant pensioners in our institutions. That is the truth of it.”
The remaining 50 percent, he added, is in the revenue consolidated account of the government to meet other financial obligations to other sectors of the economy. The staff remuneration and welfare is just one out of several sectors that the state government is financially responsible to, he noted. “So, the issue of money being diverted to other things doesn’t arise here in Ekiti. We do the needful at all times. When we receive any money, we call a meeting of the stakeholders and decide on what to do. We table all our obligations to all sectors and then we prioritize our actions.”
He described those who made the allegation against him as frustrated liars, saying: “I’m somebody that whenever I received allocation or any money from the Federal government, I usually invite all the leaders of the workers to a roundtable to discuss how the money should be used in payment of salaries and emoluments and other things.
“I do this so that whenever my enemies spread any falsehood, I usually advise the people to ask the labour leaders in the state and local government area so they can explain to them and let them know that I usually carry them along on how we use the allocations here. I have nothing to hide. Money is good though, but even if we have the whole money in the world, it cannot return me as governor.”
Explaining further, Chief Toyin Ojo, Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, said: “we table all our obligations to all sectors and then we prioritize our actions. Such obligations include security, police, army, contingency vote of Mr. Governor powering the street lights, maintaining the dams to supply water to all the nooks and crannies of the state, etc.
“Apart from these recurrent expenditure, we also have our capital expenditure. The combination of the budget is both capital and recurrent. In fact, the World Bank standard, 60 percent of the money should be spent on capital expenditure, but in our case, we have more on recurrent because of the high labour cost. What we spend here is about 60 percent to recurrent and 40 percent to capital and we are adhering to it strictly. We don’t joke with actualizing our budget.” Ojo gave the breakdown of how the money was channeled for state use.
Comrade Ade Adesanmi, Ekiti State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), who spoke on behalf of the workers directly affected by backlogs of unpaid salaries, also cleared air on the controversial Ekiti Paris loan refund, saying the critics only enjoy spreading falsehood in criticism.
The labour leader denied that no workers had received any N250 million alleged to have been shared to them by governor Fayose, said the allegation of the so called N250 had already been circulated by the opposition before they went to Ikogosi waterfalls for the training as a protest by some youths in the town had forced them to shift the date of the commencement of the training. He said each participant only got a sum of N10, 000 for the three-day training as transport allowance.
Speaking on the promotion which the government ‘s critics described as a ruse, Adesanmi said: “If there was a government that didn’t promote workers due for promotion in 2012 and 2013 and we have another government that said all the backlog of promotions should be done at once, I think that kind of government should be commended rather than being castigated.”
With regard to the Paris Club loan refund. Initially, we heard on the social media that it was N84 billion. Later it came down to N43b and later to N14b. What the state actually got was N8.8 billion. The local government got N3.4 billion. The state got N5.4 billion. And the agreement the various states have with the FG was to use at least 50 percent of that money to offset backlog of salaries and pensions. And when you look at the 50 percent of 5.4, it is 2.7, while the wage bill at state level is N2.6 billion. So, that Paris money was actually used to pay our July salary and when that was paid, it included everybody, the existing workers and pensioners.”