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Reps move to probe FG’s bailout funds to states; as labour vows to tackle governors over unpaid salaries

House of Representatives in session
House of Representatives in session
House of Representatives, Thursday, resolved to probe issues surrounding bailout funds given to states by the Federal Government.
It said that it would set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the terms and conditions of disbursement of the funds.
The ad hoc committee, according to the lawmakers, will investigate utilization of the funds, level of compliance with targets and determine the necessity of further disbursement as being planned by the Federal Government.
This followed a motion raised under “Matters of Urgent National Importance’’ by Rep. Sunday Karimi (PDP)-Kogi), which was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote.
Moving the motion, Karimi said that the need to investigate the disbursement and utilisation of the funds was geared toward ensuring the welfare of citizens in the affected states.
He explained that the Federal Government approved and disbursed N689.5 billion to 27 states in July, 2015, and gave N20 billion to Kogi four months ago.
The lawmaker expressed dismay that many of the beneficiary-states had failed to utilize the funds for payment of workers’ salaries and had continued to owe the workers their salaries.
He disclosed that reports had alleged that many state governments lodged the bailout funds in interest-bearing accounts and allowed their employees to continue to wallow in hunger and lack.
“States like Abia, Osun, Bayelsa, Benue, Ekiti, Kwara, Plateau, Oyo, Delta, Niger, Ogun, Nasarawa, Kogi, among others, are still owing workers’ salaries for several months.”
Contributing to the motion, House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the intention of giving out the bailout funds was good, but that the application seemed to be wrongly done.
He said that in order to have transparency, the house should look into the matter and avoid same mistake in the bailout to be given soon.
Also contributing, Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, said that based on the provisions of the Constitution, the house was empowered to look into the methodology and legality of the bailout funds.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Thursday, vowed to tackle state governors over non-payment and cuts in the salaries of workers in some states.
The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said in Abuja, that the congress would meet with all its state councils to encourage them to respond effectively to some of the challenges in the states.
“We may declare a state of emergency in the area of non-payment of salaries and we are going to have a meeting with all our state councils to respond effectively to some of these challenges.
“We want to take stock of exactly what the issues are and we will also put appropriate employers on notice.
“We will declare a state of emergency because workers should not be made to bear the brunt of the challenges because they are not responsible.
“When the economy was good they did not enjoy, now that there is a challenge, they are the worst-hit, it should not be so; these are our arguments.
“But when they are taking such decisions, they also have to be very balanced in taking such decision, it should not only apply to workers.
“Political office holders are still collecting their money even though they are proposing the reduction; they are still collecting the security vote we are talking about and they are still issuing bogus contracts.”
He said most countries that had experienced economy recession, had to take all interests into consideration before deciding to either cut salaries or stop payment of workers.
Wabba explained that salaries were not an allocation to workers, but remunerations earned in line with international best practices and in consonance with Convention 138 of the International Labour Organisation.
“Salaries of workers are not an allocation; therefore, the pronouncement by some of these governors, I think it is something that needs to be condemned. We are condemning it in strong terms; how much is N18,000?
“How much is the quantum of money that the governors are collecting and looting; let them compile it so that we can all see it.
“Do not also forget, these workers need to leave a decent life and to work and provide such services.
“If you do not pay them or pay them half of their salary, how would they leave a decent life? How will these workers be able to take care of their immediate needs?’’
He advised state governors not to cut or stop payment of salaries due to economy recession but rather fashion out ways of generating funds for their states.
The NLC president also noted that some governors were proposing to sack workers.
He warned that such decision might lead to social instability and serious social consequences and vices in the states.
“Already, we have written a very strong letter and we are proposing also to engage these governors to see how best we can look at this issue.”
He advised state governors to ensure that they engaged with workers in a social dialogue before making any hash decision that would not be beneficial to the workers or move such states forward.
NAN

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