PMB Directs Govs To Pay All Salary Arrears Before Christmas




President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed state governors to pay all outstanding salary arrears to workers before Christmas.
This was the condition he gave the governors before approving the payment of outstanding Paris- London Club refunds to states before the yuletide season.
Buhari directed his key finance officers to sit down with representatives of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to determine how much of the unpaid debts can be released to them before Christmas.
Led by the chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State governor, Abdul-Aziz Yari, the governors were in Aso Rock to ask the president to give a commitment that he would pay all outstanding debts owed them from London and Paris Club deductions to ease their financial hardships.
Preisdential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu noted that the governors informed the president that they wanted his commitment on this repayment so that they could factor the money into their 2018 appropriation plans.
Responding to their entreaties, President Buhari told the governors that he was not averse to the payments so long as the treasury can afford it and the economy will not be destabilised.
Noting that the issues affecting the states were familiar to him, Buhari said, “I will not be saying much because the responsible ministers are here: Finance, Budget and Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria.  I request you to appoint your own team to come and sit down with them.
“This should be done, not only for next year’s budget but for this Christmas.  The Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning and the Central Bank should sit down with you in a sub-committee to see how much can be released before Christmas.
“For Nigerians without sources other than their salary, I am concerned that workers should be able to pay rent, school fees, buy drugs and take care of their families. I am so much concerned that people should have something to eat for Christmas”.
Also confirming this to State House correspondents after the meeting between the president and the governors, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha said Buhari expressed concern over the inability of most states to pay salaries.
According to him, the president stressed the need for every Nigerian worker to get their salaries to enable them enjoy their Christmas.
He said, “It was a brief meeting between the governors and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the end of the year and the president expressed the need to ensure that every Nigerian, especially the workers have a beautiful Christmas. The issue of outstanding Paris club was discussed and that was taken care of to make sure that workers in various states and everywhere in the country get to celebrate the Christmas.
“We also used the opportunity to review our working relationship with the president from the states and we found out that we are in harmony. There is no difference between the president and us. 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 states 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”.
Asked if 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”.
Explaining further, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el- Rufai stated that the Paris club figures needed to be reconciled.
He said, while the reconciliation process was going on, the president approved that 50 per cent of the original amount be paid to the states.
According to him, the payment started from last year and the states still have the balance of the first 50 per cent.
“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, he said.
Asked to give a specific amount the states are expecting, he said, “I don’t know the amount. I’m sure that if you contact the Ministry of Finance, they can give you the total amount. I only know what my state is likely to get. There is another 50 per cent that needs to be paid when the figures are reconciled. The reconciliation is going to be concluded before the end of the year.
“The Chief of Staff to the President will ensure that the committee working on the reconciliation will conclude the work before the end of the year. So, what the governors are requesting from the president is a directive – ‘go ahead to include the next 50 per cent in your 2018 budget and that is going to be looked at.’
“Every state will get its own share of the Paris-Club refund. It will not get more. Every state has a specific amount that was deducted. That amount may be enough to cover the arrears; it may not be because you cannot get more than you are entitled to. It varies from state to state. My state has no salary arrears at all. So, it is a mute issue. Kano doesn’t have salary arrears”.

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