Urges governors to pay workers, pensioners
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sum of N552.74 billion to be paid in batches to all the states owed excess deductions for external debt service.
They are expected to receive 25 per cent of their approved sums, in the first instance, by the end of today.
This is even as he urged governors still owing workers salaries and other entitlements to pay, at least, 25 percent of the refunds made to them from excess deductions for external debt service.
Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, disclosed that the President approved the sum of N552.74 billion to be paid in batches to all 33 states that are owed.
“The refunds arose following the claims by the governors that they had been overcharged in deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002,” Shehu said.
He said President Buhari gave a directive through the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, that the issue of workers benefits, particularly salary and pensions, must not be allowed to continue as a national problem and should be tackled with all the urgency that can be summoned.
Shehu recalled that President Buhari had, on assumption of office last year, declared an emergency over unpaid salaries, following the discovery that 27 out of 36 states had fallen behind in the payments to their workers, in some cases for up to a year.
“Following this, a bailout loan was issued to the states twice, with a first batch of about N300 billion given to them in 2015 in the form of soft loans.
“The administration also got the Debt Management Office (DMO) to restructure their commercial loans of over N660 billion and extended the life span of the loans.
“Because this did not succeed in pulling many of the states out of distress, the federal government, this year, gave out a further N90 billion to 22 states as yet another bailout loans under very stringent conditions”.
President Buhari has consistently declared that the payment of salaries and pensions must be given priority to save both serving and retired workers and their families from distress.