Nigeria workers may soon be smiling home as the Federal Government has paid the sum of N516.38billion to states as refunds on over-deductions for external debt service.
The governors had last week promised to pay the backlog of workers’ salaries when they receive the payment of the second tranche of the refund from the Federal Government.
The first tranche had been engulfed with controversy, as there were allegations that a large part of the funds were diverted to private accounts by a few individuals.
Huge sums that we’re also marked as payment for consultants also drew questions, as some of the consultants claimed they had not been paid.
Now that they have eventually received the payment of N516 billion, there is hope that the governors will be truthful to their promise, of settling backlog of salary arrears owed workers.
States that received larger amount of the refunds are Rivers with N34.925 billion, Delta and Akwa Ibom with N27.606 billion and N25.981 billion, respectively.
Gombe state go the least refund with N8. 945 billion.
Announcing the development in a statement released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, through its Director of Information, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna, in Abuja on Friday, the ministry explained that the payment was in line with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari on November 21, 2016, in partial settlement of long-standing claims by state governments.
Some states were already overcharged before Nigeria reached a final agreement for debt relief with the Paris Club in October 2005.
The states have therefore continued to lay claim to over-deductions from their Federation Account allocations for external debt servicing between 1995 and 2002.
The ministry noted that the debt service deductions for which refunds have been made were in regards to the Paris Club, London Club and Multilateral debts of the Federal Government and states.
Part of the statement read, “The funds were released to state governments as part of the wider efforts to stimulate the economy and were specifically designed to support states in meeting salary and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.
“The releases were conditional upon a minimum of 50 percent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. The Federal Ministry of Finance is reviewing the impact of these releases on the level of arrears owed by state governments.
“A detailed report is being compiled for presentation to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as part of the process for approval for the release of any subsequent tranches.”
State–by-State refunds were:
Akwa Ibom, 25,981,255,165.12
Cross River, 12,150,687,893.85.
Others are: Delta, 27,606,963,362.46
The rest are: Kastina, 16,404,261,819.71
and FCT, 1,369,735,000.09.