‘FG must bail out states in economic distress’
A former Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Ondo State, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to provide financial bailout for state governments especially now that many of them cannot pick their wage bill.
Anifowose who is also a daughter of former Ondo State governor, late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, said a financial support from the Federal Government is needed now to prevent most of the states from going under.
Because of the economic distress in the country caused by a significant drop in government revenue, state governors sought solace in the Federal Government to bail them out of their economic predicament.
Their hopes were however dashed when the President declared that the national treasury is in the red and that his administration inherited a “virtually empty treasury with debts in millions of dollars, with the state workers and even federal workers not paid their salaries.”
Buhari affirmed that it is the responsibility of state governments and the Federal Government to pay the wages and salaries of their workers.
But many financial experts and critics blame many of the state governors for the prevalent financial crises in their respective states, alluding to the last elections in the country.
The Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Limited, Bismarck Rewane, submitted that the nation’s problem and all round economic challenges were engendered by the recklessness of those who are entrusted with positions of leadership in government and society at large.
According to him, “There have been obvious institutional weaknesses for long, which is an evidence of leadership failure,” which has led to the culture of bribery, corruption, malfeasance and other crimes in governance.
Spokesman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ondo State, Abayomi Adesanya said many of the states got themselves enmeshed in their present situations and he specifically alleged the state governor of monetizing politics during the April 12, Assembly election across the 26 state constituencies.
While expressing dissatisfaction the emergence of Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as the chairman of Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDPGF) he asked, “Was Dr. Mimiko given the Chairmanship because of his illusionary achievements in Ondo State -failure to conduct local government election for almost seven (7) years; mismanagement and failure to account for the State funds and allocations; the moribund of almost all the institutions and parastatals in the State under his leadership; and the running of the State like an emperor?”
Speaking in the same vein, Anifowose remarked that some state governors expended the allocation accrued to them and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to better the lives of the people by providing for them, ample access to the dividends of democracy at all levels.
She said, “I won’t say all the governors have misused funds, some have, but you can see what some have done with the money they have collected. With the oil problem that is adversely affecting the revenue, it will definitely affect what is going on at the state level. I want to say that the Federal Government cannot be insensitive to what is happening in the states, it must intervene. This is not the first time it is happening in this country.”
The gubernatorial aspirant of the 2012 of the defunct ACN and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice during late Chief Adebayo Adefarati administration told The Guardian that even a just leader could suffer the same fate economically.
“During the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) era, Ondo State that was being governed by a governor who was adjudged meticulous and discreet financially, was having that problem of not being able to pay workers’ salaries. But at the end of the day, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was the President then intervened.”
The lawyer turned politician added that “it was through the efforts of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Ondo State, which made the Federal Government to realize why the allocation of the states should increase from about 24% to 30%, also giving them grants to implement many of their projects and ameliorate the problems of unpaid salaries.
“Federal Government has to look backward and appraise what happened then to find out how it was solved: not enough coming from the federal allocation and the IGR not sufficient enough to sustain the states.”
She stated further that “the Federal Government has to look into the financial crises in the state to bail the state governments out of the predicament even if it requires streamlining the workforce, which might cause some ripple effects but I am sure the current position of state governments require surgical operation in respect of retrenchment of civil servants.”
Similarly, a socio-cultural group, Yoruba Redemption Forum (YRF), appealed to humanitarians and wealthy Nigerians to come to the aid of state governments owing their workers salaries across the nation.
In a statement made available to The Guardian in Akure by its Secretary General, Boluwaji Faseyi, the group made a clarion call to rich individuals, societies and organisations to come to the rescue of the indebted state governments.
Faseyi, in consonance with Anifowoshe, mentioned that this is not the first time state governments would be plunged into financial crises in the annals of Nigera’s national development; he noted that the country had overcome similar depression in the past.
According to him, “During the second republic, Oyo state got financial assistance from Oba Okunade Sijuade, the Ooni of Ife, Dokpesi came to the rescue of Lateef Jakande in Lagos State, Odutola and Fagboye helped Ogun state, while Alfred Rewane intervened to the financial crises of old Bendel state.”
He commended the Living Faith Church, aka Winners’ Chapel and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which followed suite to bail the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola out of the fix, by donating money and providing food for the hungry workers of the state, who have not been paid their salaries for the past 7 months.
The YRF scribe tasked wealthy Nigerians to emulate such goodwill in their respective states and zone, so as to help sustain our nascent democracy and maintain peace, orderliness and harmony in the country.
Faseyi also appealed to the civil servants and people of Osun to be patient with their governor, as he is making frantic efforts to bail his government out of the stormy season and muddy waters of the economic recess hitting the whole world.
Assuring the civil servants of prompt intervention, Mimiko declared that the ugly situation would soon fizzle away, as all the state governors are working hard to ensure that the financial storm is over.
Mimiko who said this during the 13th anniversary of the Prayer Centre Church of God, Akure, remarked that the financial crises are the core problems of all the 36 states of the federation, thereby leading to inability to pay workers’ salaries and complete ongoing capital projects.