President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the payment of the balance of the Paris and London Clubs refunds to the states in order to clear all outstanding salary arrears before the end of the year.
Speaking at the end of a meeting with a delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday, Nov. 27, President Buhari said the backlog of workers’ salaries must be paid before Christmas.
He directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to work with state governors to ensure the payment of the funds.
The meeting featured discussions on the nation’s economy, workers’ welfare as well as Federal-State relations, among others.
Addressing State House correspondents later, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha said President Buhari expressed the need to ensure that all Nigerian workers enjoy a beautiful Christmas. He said:
“We also used the opportunity to review our working relationship with the president from the states and we found out that we’re in harmony.
“There is no difference between us and the president. Everybody seems to be happy working together. But particularly, we commended the president for getting Nigeria out of recession within such a short time. We commended Mr. President and everybody left quite happy.
“We are looking at getting the balance of Paris Club refund thrashed out once and for all. We also made a request for Mr. President’s approval that the balance should form part of our 2018 budget, because we can’t include it until we are sure that the money is coming. That was also sorted out.
“So, as it is now, the issue of workers took the centre stage and Mr. President was concerned about those who depend on their salaries to feed their families and pay their house rent and he had the assurance from the governors that we will meet up those obligations. It was emphasised that state and federal governments must work together to get Nigeria out of its present economic predicament to make Nigeria a better society for all of us.”
When asked if he meant that all salary arrears will be cleared by each state before Christmas, Okorocha said “Yes, with the Paris Club coming, every worker should enjoy his/her Christmas. I made it clear.”
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-rufai said the Paris Club figures needed to be reconciled, explaining that “while the reconciliation process was going on, the president approved that 50 percent of the original amount be paid to the states. The payment started from last year. We still have the balance of the first 50 percent.
“This is what the president said should be paid to state governments to meet their obligations before Christmas because he is concerned that many families depend solely on their salaries to for rent, for the festive period. That has been decided. The balance of the first 50 per cent is what we are expecting now before Christmas. The President has approved that and said it must be paid.”
The federal government has so far released a total of N760.18 billion to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in the first and second tranches of the Paris Club Refunds.
In the first tranche of the refunds, N516.39 billion was released while N243.80 billion was disbursed to states in the second tranche.
A statement signed by the Director of Press of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Salisu Dambatta, indicated that the refunds were in respect of the debt service deductions from the shares of states from the federation account made in respect of the Paris Club, London Club and Multilateral debts of the FG and States.