States have started receiving their share of the over N243 billion Paris/London Club refunds, but they must spend 75% on backlog of unpaid salaries and pensions.
However, there are fears by workers in some states that some Governor may short-change them.
Bayelsa State government has confirmed receipt and says process of disbursement to relevant subheads has started.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson on Wednesday confirmed the receipt of N10 billion.
Out of the money, N919 million is meant for the eight local government councils
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the governor made the confirmation at the Government House in Yenagoa on Wednesday when he played host to labour leaders in the state.
Dickson directed the State Commissioner for Finance, Maxwell Ebibai to immediately release the money to enable them carry out their obligations especially to clear some outstanding salaries.
The governor warned that the money for the councils should be properly utilized and not be shared by a few to further enrich themselves at the expense of the various workers in their respective councils.
Dickson said, “I have directed that the money should be transferred to them latest tomorrow(Thursday). As for this money, let me make it clear that is not for them to share and “chop”. It is not a free money, so those who will be celebrating that money has come to be shared will be disappointed.
“One of the greatest problem we have in this state is the fact that people always think that any money that come is free money for them to share and chop. They don’t want the state to be developed. Leaders after leaders, year after year. Twenty years after the creation of the state it is now we building good schools, health institutions”.
While thanking the labour leaders for their support and understanding the governor said the disclosure of the refund from the federal government is in line with his administration’s open policy on public finance which has been maintained since 2012.
“You people should know me by now. I have been here for almost six years and any money that comes we always announce it. Month after month, we disclose our income and expenditure in the Transparency Briefing. And I think we are the only state doing that”, Dickson said.
The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite who briefed journalists after the interactive session between the governor and the labour leaders said it was agreed that part of the money should be used to clear backlog of salaries.
” I am happy to announce that after a peaceful, fruitful and candid meeting, it was resolved that the government will use part of the fund to pay one and a half month salary . Initially we had thought that it was N14 billion that will come in so we can pay two months but that was what came in. Pentioners are also going to be paid”, he said.
The Chairman, Bayelsa State council of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), John Ndiomu and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Tari Dounana commended the government for disclosing the share of the state in the latest fund and for inviting them to interact on how to utillze the money.
They assured all workers that every outstanding salary owed by the government will be paid to them and urged them to continue to give their best.
The Fedral Ministry of Finance revealed that a total sum of N243,795,465,195.20 was approved for the 36 states and the federal capital territory by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 4, 2017.
This second tranche of Paris Club refunds is a partial settlement of long-standing claims by state governments relating to over-deductions from their federation account allocation committee (FAAC) allocation for external debt service arising between 1995 and 2002.
The breakdown of allocation on state by state basis are as follows:
CROSS RIVER 6,075,343,946.93