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Hold governors responsible for failure to pay salaries of state workers: Okonjo-Iweala

By The Rainbow
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The Federal Government has said that state governors should be blamed for their failure to pay their workers' salaries, as they were told through the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee to make the issue of wage a priority.

The Co-ordinating Minister for Economy and  Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,  in a statement by her Special Adviser on Communications, Paul Nwabuikwu, said that despite the 50 per cent drop in gross federally collectible revenue, the Federal Government had made the issue of workers' salaries a top priority in order to ensure that the “people do not feel the negative impact of the revenue drop on the economy.”

She said the statement  was necessitated by the All Progressives Congress governors' claim that the negative manner the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan administration was running the economy had made it difficult for them to pay salaries regularly.

According to the minister,  contrary to the “misinformation being put forward by certain governors to the effect that federal workers are being owed, staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date.”

She explained that  the states, being one of the three tiers of government that receive monthly allocations from the Federation Account, should be blamed for their predicament.

The statement reads, “This is to clarify the misinformation put forward by certain governors to the effect that Federal workers are being owed salaries. This is incorrect. Staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date; workers have received their April salaries.

“Regarding difficulties in salary payments, certain governors are trying to blame the Federal Government for their predicament. This is wrong. They had been told through the FAAC to prioritise salaries but they chose not to do so, hence the backlog that some states are experiencing. The 50 per cent drop in revenues simply means that salaries should be prioritised. The Federal Government should not be blamed for avoidable mistakes made at the state level.”

The APC governors had during a meeting with the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on Tuesday, expressed frustrations about their inability to pay workers' salaries. They therefore appealed to Buhari to consider a bailout plan for all the 36 state governments after his inauguration on May 29.

According to the governors, “One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in a bad shape. We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him. As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the Federal Government has not paid April salaries and that is very worrisome, by May and June, that (salaries) will be in cumulative of three months.

“We wonder with the huge expectation of Nigerians and people who have voted us into power, we are hoping that the president-elect will do everything humanly possible to bring about a bailout not only for the states but the Federal Government, at least for people to get their salaries and turn around the economy.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress had on April 28, insisted that state governors must pay outstanding salaries before the May 29 handover date.

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