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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Anambra, Borno… nine states ‘owing workers after Paris club refund’

Anambra, Borno… nine states ‘owing workers after Paris club refund’

While most states in the country have utilised the second tranche of the Paris Club refund they received, Anambra and Borno are among the nine states which are yet to do so, according to a survey by NAN.

The other states are Gombe, Ebonyi, Enugu, Bauchi, Cross River and Imo.

The federal government had advised state governments to use between 50 and 75 per cent of their shares of the refund to clear the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities they owed.

In July, the government released the second tranche worth N243. 795 billion to the 36 states in July, having earlier released N388.30 billion in December 2016.

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The funds were released following protests by the states against over-deductions from their allocations for external debt services between 1995 and 2002.

The survey by NAN revealed that some of the workers and pensioners were owed salaries and pensions for periods ranging between two to 11 months.

However, in most states where the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities have been paid, some civil servants and retirees, especially those in the council areas, are still being owed.

Jigawa, Yobe and Adamawa in the north-east; Kwara in the north-central; all states in the south-south except Cross River; Abia in the south-east; and all states in the south-west have paid off all its arrears.

In Jigawa,  Suleiman Kiyawa, executive secretary, Jigawa state and local government contributory pension scheme, said the state government had cleared the arrears.

Kiyawa said the state government paid about N461.4 million as terminal benefits to 339 retirees in the state.

Abubakar Musa, a retired civil servant in the state, said each time a civil servant retired, he/she collected the entitlements without delay.

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In Yobe, Baba Malam-Wali, secretary to the state government (SSG), said the state had been paying salaries of workers as and at when due and would continue to do so.

However, payment of the entitlements of the council workers in the state had been delayed due to an internal conflict among members of the state local government retiree screening committee.

Kachallah Goni, the state chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), commended the state government for the prompt payment and urged it to intervene in the matter to pave way for hitch-free settlement of the arrears.

On its part, the Borno government said it approved N6 billion for the clearing of the outstanding retired workers’ gratuities and pensions in the state.

However, the concerned workers and retirees are yet to receive the payments.

In Gombe, Haruna Kamara, chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said the state government had not settled the arrears of gratuities of some retired civil servants.

He said that government did not inform the NLC in the state about the release of the second tranche, but that the organised labour only read of it on the internet.

“The truth of the matter is that nobody from the government of Gombe state consulted us about the fund and how they are going to use it,” he said.

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Muhamadu Bindow, Adamawa state governor, acknowledged receipt of N6.11 billion as the state’s share of the refund.

“So far, we have settled six months inherited outstanding workers’ salaries,” Bindow said.

“It remains only one month salary arrears which I have directed the commissioner of finance to pay.”

However, some primary school teachers, primary healthcare workers and pensioners complained of non-payment of their outstanding salaries and pensions.

But some primary healthcare workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were owed three months salaries.

“As I am talking with you, we have not received even the July salary let alone the three months arrears. We are suffering,” one of them was quoted as saying.

Below is a breakdown of what each state got:

Anambra, Borno… nine states ‘owing workers after Paris club refund’

Anambra, Borno… nine states ‘owing workers after Paris club refund’

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