Bailout fund not released yet, says Okorocha



• We’re paying from it already – Abia Govt
• Lawmakers approve Ikpeazu’s N30b loan request

CONFUSION is trailing the present status of the Federal Government’s recent announcement of bailout funds to enable states pay workers’ salary arrears, which have run into several months in nearly all the states of the federation.

In Imo State, where the workers are poised for an indefinite strike over the state government’s “refusal” to liquidate their salary arrears after the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government’s intervention, Governor Rochas Okorocha, also of the same party, says that no fund has yet been received.

In a statement in Owerri on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor accused blackmailers of inciting the workers, using the bailout as basis.

He declared unequivocally: “The truth is that it has not got to the state and to the best of our knowledge, no state is known or heard to have got the bailout fund. The release of the money to states, including Imo, will not be a secrete exercise. When it comes, we shall also duly inform then.”

Curiously, however, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Abia State says it has begun offsetting its workers’ salary arrears with its share of the bailout fund.

Media Assistant to the Governor, Ugochukwu Emezue, disclosed at the weekend in Umuahia that the state received about N3 billion from the Federal Government’s bailout fund and needed a balance of N3 billion to offset the entire backlog of N6 billion.

“The (Abia State) government has received the bailout fund in the neighbourhood of N3 billion. Abia needed about N6 billion to clear the arrears and government is looking inwards to augment to clear all the arrears,” Emezue said.

According to him, payment has started; those yet to receive their May salary are those yet to complete the ongoing verification exercise against ghost workers. He debunked insinuations that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu would not pay the arrears he inherited.

He urged those yet to do their verification to hasten up, stressing that Ikpeazu wants to build a “proactive, dynamic and compliant” civil service.

And sequel to his letter, the Abia State House of Assembly on Tuesday approved for Ikpeazu the request to raise N30 billion loan from commercial banks, which they resolved must be sealed on the prevailing interest rates.

The lawmakers further resolved that the N30 billion loan, when secured, should be strictly used for roads construction/ rehabilitation in the three senatorial zones, industrial clusters, model hospital in each zone, as well as to dredge the Aba River, among others.

The move for loan came as the state looks to internally raise N3 billion to clear the arrears of workers’ salary, reportedly totaling N6 billion.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor, Ude Oko Chukwu, has stressed the imperativeness of prudent and transparent management of government’s internally generated revenue and other resources, stating that the states is grappling with enormous challenges following the fall in Naira value and oil prices.

Addressing a delegation of the state chapter of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), which paid him a visit at the Government House, Umuahia, Chukwu commended members for their inputs in the running of the state’s economy through their committee services in their various establishments.

He urged them to set platforms for the training of younger accountants to enable them qualify professionally. Chukwu, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), expressed optimism that the chapter would use its expertise to aid the state in its current financial challenges.

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