EDITORIAL: Our stand on bailout funds

by AljazirahNigeria | July 31, 2017 12:25 pm

Following the economic turmoil Nigeria is currently going through, the Federal Government (FG) has once again, made moves to rescue state governments who have been hit by the crisis.

According to reports, over N1.9tn has been given to states as extra-statutory allocation known as bailout since the inception of President Buhari’s administration.

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 for States that owe salaries and pension.

No fewer than 23 states are still owing their workers a backlog of salaries and allowances, despite bailout funds from Federal Government.

The states include Kaduna (12 months), Oyo (three to 11 months), Edo (10 months), Abia (five to nine months), Kwara (two to nine months), Benue (nine months), and Nasarawa (seven months), while Ondo, Ekiti, and Imo are owing six months.

Zamfara has not implemented minimum wage, while Adamawa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, and Plateau states owe four months each, and Taraba and FCT (three months).

Also, Osun State has been paying half salaries for more than 24 months, while few months are being owed salaries in Enugu. Ogun and Ekiti have continued to withhold union dues deducted from workers’ salaries for the past seven and nine months respectively.

Little is known about how these bailout funds are spent.

It is against this backdrop that AljazirahNigeria calls for holistic and comprehensive audit of all the funds disbursed so far.

The lack of will to encourage state governments to embrace transparency, and the inability of the federal government to enforce conditions that mandate states to submit performance reports on how bailout funds were spent, has ensured that governors merely sit back, and routinely await bail out funds, and immediately divert to their private accounts.

Furthermore, some states in Nigeria are yet to achieve economic viability despite huge bailout funds allocated to them. Some state governors have been accused of misusing bailouts to fund unnecessary state projects that are not of benefits to the citizenry.

To discontinue this tradition and ensure funds are used efficiently, the allocation, utilization and spending of bailout funds should be transparent, coordinated and discreet.

AljazirahNigeria calls for the immediate probe of States that allegedly diverted the bail funds released by the federal government.

We at AljazirahNigeria strongly demand that the federal government through its anti-graft agency immediately commence the probe of all state government utilization of the bail out funds. State government should publicly account for how they spend public funds in their trust or be prosecuted.

State governments need to more in terms of transparency and accountability in the use of bailout funds.

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