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Release of Paris Club refunds to states: Why Buhari should dispatch monitoring team

ADAM MUHAMMAD

President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) should be commended for directing the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to immediately release the second tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds to states in order to ease their financial hardships and this has shown that Mr. President is listening to the calls of Nigerians to alleviate their sufferings.The President made himself clear last Thursday in Abuja while addressing the meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, made up of State Governors and chaired by the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, when he made a strong case for settlement of unpaid salaries and pension liabilities of their workers from the funds.

For the purpose of emphasis, President Buhari had reportedly said: “I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people.  One of these basic things is the issue of salaries.  It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow”.

While President Buhari deserves commendation for releasing the second phase of bailout to states, his emphasis that the money should be utilized for payment of salaries and pension marks him out as a statesman.

However, good as his intention seems, the good people of the states concerned including  Osun, are apprehensive as to the willingness of their Governors to comply with Buhari’s directive. It is in the light of this that PMB should dispatch a monitoring team to  the states, including Osun and save people from hunger as many of their children have been sent out of schools with landlord on their neck threatening eviction.

If how the utilization of the past bailouts is anything to go by, It should be noted that some state governors cannot be up-to-date in the payment of salaries of their workers due massive corruption and obvious refusal to give priority to their workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) should keep its promise of partnering the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to monitor disbursement and use of not only the bailout funds but other funds released to the states by the Federal Government for the betterment of the citizenry. As directed by the National Secretariat of the NLC, the state councils of the Congress should also ensure that they serve as whistle blowers on any criminal diversion of any fund.

It would be recalled that ICPC) had said in one of its published reports that some states mismanaged the bail-out funds granted them by the Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries and pensions. This should not be allowed to happen this time as it is now obvious that people are wallowing in abject poverty with workers and pensioners mostly bearing the brunt.

The dispatch of the monitoring  team, which should include NLC members, ICPC and EFCC operatives  by President Buhari, is absolutely necessary following allegations of diversion of these bail-out funds and to avoid industrial unrestS across the states.

 .Adam Muhammad, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Osogbo, Osun State.

 

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