The Kogi state governor, Idris Wada, has claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is delaying the bailout fund of the state despite being one of the first states to apply with full documentation for the federal government's bailout fund.
He further claimed that the delay is connected to the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state.
In an interview with journalists, including Legit.ng's correspondent in his office in Lokoja on Saturday, Governor Wada denied owing civil servants' salaries.
He explained that the state only owes local government workers and explained that this was due to the increased minimum wage bill introduced by the federal government, adding that the APC leaders in the state and national level are acting without the orders of the president.
Wada equally questioned the sincerity of the change slogan of the APC.
Delay in bailout funds
“When the FG brought out this bailout package, they said states can apply to pay over 20 years period at 9% interest rate, this has never happened in Nigeria before to the best of my knowledge. We aggregated all our exposure in the outstanding percentage payment to our local government workers and teachers and applied for this bailout to clean it all out and give confidence that it is because the money coming was not enough, that is why we could not pay them their full salaries.
“Kogi state was one of the first states to apply with complete documentation but many states that applied after us, some of them even copied our presentation, they have been given. I have gone to see the CBN governor three times and I have met the president to complain that why are we being delayed.
“These liabilities are things I inherited, some of them have existed since the creation of Kogi state but when this window was opened, the sensible thing to do is to use it to clean up all these liabilities and move forward without the liabilities, that was our intention.
"We applied and supplied all the documentation. The CBN approved and advertised the entire amount they have approved for all states. They said they approved 50.8 billion naira for Kogi state, which includes 4.9 billion naira for our civil servants, about 23 billion naira for LG employees and about 21 billion naira for our teachers. That was what they approved and they advertised it in the newspapers.
“They didn’t call us to say this is what they have approved, we saw it in the newspapers and online. They started releasing to various states and didn’t release to us. So I went to ask the CBN governor that what is going on, why are you holding on to our money, he said they will soon get to us.
"At a critical meeting, he committed that ‘within the following week', they were going to release the money but up till now they have not.
“The next thing we know is for the APC governorship candidate in the state to be boasting in his campaign that they will not release the money until he becomes governor of the state that he is going to win the next election and that APC is in charge of the Federal government that they have blocked the release of the money to Kogi state.
“This is shocking because this country belongs to all of us, whether you are APC or PDP, the interest of the people is why we came to public service. So if you say you want to be governor of a state why will you block what will improve the lives of the workers of the state?
"It will improve the economy because everybody that receives salary will buy one thing or the other and that is how the money circulates to improve lives of the people.
“Right now I have done everything I can which includes seeing the president who said he has no problem authorizing the release of the money but why the CBN governor has refused to release the money is what I don’t know. They asked us to bring biometric of the teachers and local government employees, we have done it because we have done biometric in the state.
“They asked us to bring BVN verification of these people; we collected those that have done because the time frame for BVN registration has not elapsed. We wrote a circular to our employees and unions that make sure your members get their BVN before they can get the money.
"I challenge CBN, which other state did they put through this type of process? This is injustice, it is unfair. It is political and unfortunate because how long are we in the APC’s government to see something like this.
"Nobody has taken the trouble that I have taken to get these monies for our state. This is money that cannot be mismanaged or misappropriated because the names of people, with the amount due to them, their account number and their BVN are there, with biometric verification. So how can you take out of the money except someone willingly gives you his or her own money.
"So why this is being politicized is unfortunate because I am confident it is not the intention of Mr President. The clear intent of President Buhari was to help Nigerian workers so I don’t want anybody to drag him to it. This mischief is between some APC leaders, especially in Kogi and the CBN governor, who should explain to Nigerians why he is holding the money due to Kogi state.
"Honourably, the CBN governor should come out and tell the world what we have done wrong so that we can correct it, we are not infallible but when you put us through to the mill and we have complied, release the money and let the workers move on but to tie it to election is bad for the democracy of this country.
"I challenge anyone to come out with anything else. That is the true position of the bailout issue in Kogi state,” the governor explained to journalists.
Explaining further, Wada said he does not interfere in the affairs of the local governments in the state.
He said: "The state government has no interference in this, particularly in Kogi state here, we have total autonomy for the operation of our LG system, I do not interfere. There is a joint allocation meeting chaired by the commissioner but the key members are the LG chairmen."