The Oyo State Government has disclosed that 60 per cent of the latest Paris Club refund of N7.9 billion will be expended on salaries, wages and pensions of workers in the state, saying that its decision to use 100 per cent of its federal allocations for workers’ welfare still stands.
The government has also explained that about 80 per cent of its much touted debt profile of N115 billion by political opponents is made up of salaries, gratuities, pensions and wages owed workers and pensioners in the state, emphasizing that it also includes gratuities and pensions predating Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s administration.
The State Commissioner for Finance and Budget, Abimbola Adekanmbi, made these explanations while featuring on a live programme on a private radio station in Ibadan at the weekend, saying that the remaining 20 per cent is largely composed of financial support from the Federal Government such as budget support and infrastructural loan.
Adekanmbi stated that the the Ajimobi administration is very committed to the welfare of the entire people of the state, hence its decision to deploy 60 per cent of the first disbursement of the first tranche of Paris Club refund for workers welfare, which is more than the 50 per cent suggested by President Muhammad Buhari.
However, this runs contrary to the latest directive by the Federal Government on the deployment of the funds.
The directive of President Buhari was issued when the first tranche of the funds was released.
In releasing the present tranche of N243.8 billion to the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory on July 18, 2017, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, directed that a minimum of 75 per should should be spent on salaries.
Adeosun said: “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 salaries and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.
“The releases were conditional upon a minimum of 75 per cent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions for states that owe salaries and pension.”
But the Oyo State Government rather chose to go with the initial directive by President Buhari, with Adekambi saying on the radio programme on Saturday: “We will all recall that President Buhari has told state governments to use at least 50 per cent of the refund for workers’ wages, salaries and allowances.
“We are doing more than the 50 per cent in Oyo State. When we collected the first tranche of N7.2 billion, we used 60 per cent for workers’ salaries and wages.
“We also collected a part two of the inflow of the sum of N5.003 billion and committed 100 per cent to salaries and salary related payments of workers in the state
“We have paid two months salaries three times consecutively and the governor has not relented in his efforts to clear all the outstanding wages. We will all remember that Oyo State was initially excluded from the refund, but the governor’s tenacity and strong will ensured that we also got our share.
“It amazes me when people throw figures in the air without proper explanation or understanding. It is ver disappointing when people who claim to be knowledgeable bandy figures for mischief with malicious intent for cheap political gain. Our books are available for all to see and the leadership of the workers’ unions meet with us regularly. We devote 100 per cent of our federal allocations to workers’ salaries and salary related and we did not borrow all the N115 billion debt.
“About 80 per cent of it is an accumulation of outstanding salaries, pensions, gratuities including those from previous administrations. We will do all within our capacity to always set the record straight and put things in proper perspective with a view to enlightening the public.”