On Monday July 22, 2019, Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello confirmed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has paid the balance of N30.8 billion bailout fund earlier requested to the state government account. Bello disclosed this at the Government House, Lokoja during the ground-breaking ceremony for the building of a chapel for Christians within the premises of the Kogi Government House.
Few days later, civil servants on the employ of Kogi state government started receiving salary alerts for five month arrears owed them. Local government workers had to wait for some days before they got paid three months salary arrears.
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From accounts of government officials, the wage bill for salaries of state government workers stand at N2.7bn monthly while Local Government salary wage bill is currently N2.5bn monthly. These figures, according to government records, were arrived at after the staff verification exercise, after Governor Yahaya Bello granted amnesty to about 30 categories of offenders earlier screened out and after new recruitment by the Ministries of Justice, Health, Environment etc.
Based on these figures, five months salary arrears paid to state government workers translate into N13.5 billion and the three months paid to local government workers translate to N7.5billion. In all, Governor Yahaya Bello has only utilized N21 billion only from the N30.8billion bailout fund accessed. Where is the N9.8billion balance?
Also note that no single kobo from the over N5billion last month allocations for state and local governments was spent on salaries and pensions.
It is worth mentioning that contrary to propaganda by the state government that it has cleared all outstanding salary arrears, the government is still hugely indebted to workers in the state. Before the release of N30.8billion bailout fund, Yahaya Bello-led administration was owing workers 5-42 months salary arrears.
On Wednesday 22nd May 2019, at a meeting in Government House Lokoja, the NLC chairman, Comrade Onuh Edoka said he was surprised when the governor openly lied in a national television that he was not owing workers a dime and stressed that there were categories of workers that were currently being owed for 39 months, while some were owed between 7- 23 months. Between then and now, indebtedness to some workers have sadly risen to 42 months.
The current reggae dance by Bello and his cohorts based on self deceit is ridiculous. Their sole aim is to deceive Buhari and APC leaders to believe he has cleared all salary arrears. This is further from the truth and workers are fully aware of this.
Let it be known to all that Bello is yet to clear our outstanding salary and pensions. He was owing between 5-42 months salary arrears before release of N30.8billion bailout fund and now reduced to 2-37 months arrears. The only category of salary earners in Kogi state that have been paid up to date are political appointees of the government. Thank God, his Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba confirmed this in a recent interview with journalists. It is our hard earned sweat and we will always demand for it.
It is also important to state here that the entire N50.8billion has been fraudulently utilized by Yahaya Bello. When the fund was applied for, a large chunk of it, N44.6billion was to pay local government workers who have suffered untold hardship because of years of percentage salary payment. As at this the time it was applied for, state government workers were owed one month salary only!
However, when Bello got the first payment of N20billion, he decided to use N10billion each for both state and local government workers. This is fraud! He practically used N10billion to pay salary arrears he owed state government workers who he denied during his ill-fated screening exercise. Ordinarily, the N30.8billion balance he got recently ought to have been reserved for local government workers only! Whatever Bello is owing state government workers is solely due to his reckless management of state monthly allocations.
The administration of former governor Idris Wada had applied for a bailout of N50.8 to offset salaries of workers but the money was not released to him on alleged ground of political intrigues in the build up to the 2015 Kogi governorship election. The CBN eventually released N20 billion of the amount to Governor Bello upon assuming office in 2016 leaving the balance of N30.8 billion which was just released to the governor. Surprisingly, the balance of the bailout fund was released to Bello few months to 2019 governorship election.
– Adamu Ojonugwa writes from Lokoja.