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We’re Not Elected To Only Pay Salaries – Governors’ Forum |RN

  • Resign if you can’t pay, workers tell govs

 

Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu

Governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have said that they are not elected to only pay salaries of civil servants.

They argued they were also elected to provide good roads, electricity, education and other necessary amenities for the people.

They said there was no way they could perform magic if there were no funds to work with.

They, therefore, called for the examination of the national income in the last 14 years to enable them to agree on the contentious issue of minimum wage implementation.

Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, made their position known to journalists after the meeting of the governors in Abuja on Wednesday night.

One of our correspondents reports that the committee working on the minimum wage is almost concluding negotiations on the matter.

The Federal Government had set a September date to roll out a new minimum wage for workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress is proposing a minimum wage of N65,000 for workers, but the governors are insisting on the gradual implementation of the new wage if eventually approved.

Yari said it was a pity that state governors had been limited to the payment of salaries alone in their respective states.

He said the lack of funds had hindered them from carrying out their responsibilities in other sectors such as health, electricity, education, roads, among others.

On minimum wage, he said, “We have a committee of six which represents us in discussions in the committee headed by the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige.

“The committee has yet to give us the final report. They have given us an interim report that at the Federal Government level, over 82 per cent is being spent on overheads which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.

“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our income is taken from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.”

He added, “I don’t think you people voted us only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds that we can do all those things.”

He disclosed that the governors also deliberated on the way the anti-graft agencies had been handling the war on corruption in the country.

He said that the governors resolved that both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corruption and other Related Offences Commission must adhere strictly to due process.

He said the agencies must not engage in illegalities.

He said while the governors supported the present administration’s effort to curtail corruption, they were however not comfortable with some of the actions taken by the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.

He berated the EFCC for freezing the accounts of both Benue and Akwa Ibom states, adding that even President Muhammadu Buhari will not support the illegalities perpetrated by the agencies.

“We believe strongly that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari would not sit down and supervise this illegality in the system.

“What we are saying is that we all support the government to fight corruption because it is endemic and has retarded the nation for over six decades. Definitely, it was part of what we discussed.

“What we are saying now is that we are going to support the government in terms of what it is doing to fight corruption, but due process must be respected in whatever action the agencies are going to take in the name of fighting corruption. That is the position of the governors,” he said

Resign if you can’t pay, workers tell govs

In response to the governor’s position, the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Peter Ozo-Eson, has lambasted the state chief executives.

Ozo-Eson, while speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone on Thursday, said it was ironic that governors who were mismanaging the resources of their states still had the guts to complain that they did not have enough funds to pay salaries.

The NLC official said governors should be mindful of the fact that payment of salaries was not a favour but a sacred obligation.

He said the civil service remained the vehicle through which any government could fulfil its campaign promises.

Ozo-Eson said that without the payment of salaries, it would be almost impossible for any governor to meet his campaign promises.

He added, “The issue that they were not elected to pay salaries alone is unfortunate. Salaries are not a gift to people; salaries are compensation for workers helping to deliver governmental services. So, let them not talk as if salaries being paid to people are gifts.

“Salaries constitute part of the cost of delivering government services. Some of these governors fly chartered planes even within the country all from the state’s purse. Are they elected to drain the coffers of the state they are meant to govern? It will be rather unfortunate if they start playing politics with salaries and if they so do, Nigerians should be wise enough to also meet them at the polls.”

On the issue of the N65,000 minimum wage, the NLC secretary-general said no figure had been agreed on by the organised labour.

Ozo-Eson called on the governors not to take decisions based on rumours.

He added, “So, the question of reviewing the N65, 000 downwards doesn’t arise. People are bandying figures and we do not know where they emanated from but if the governors who are represented on the tripartite committee by six governors act on a rumour that is outside of the committee and using it as a basis to take a position, then that is rather unfortunate.”

Also speaking, the National President of the Trade Union Congress, Boboi Kaigama, said any governor that was not capable of paying salaries should resign.

Kaigama said payment of salaries was the most basic form of good governance.

The TUC boss said the organised labour had been advising governors to be imaginative by increasing the Internally Generated Revenues of their states but many of them were too lazy to think outside the box, preferring to go to Abuja cap-in-hand for handouts.

Kaigama added, “It is not an issue of having other responsibilities. Why are they not talking of good governance, blocking of leakages? This will enable them to pay the minimum wage and deliver the dividends of democracy to their citizens.

“We are the wealth creators and we believe we are entitled to our wages which are subject to periodic review because the inflationary trend has taken its toll on the people. In fact, in the public service, no worker’s salary can last more than a week.

“We keep saying that if any governor feels he cannot pay salaries, it means he cannot govern the state and he should tender his resignation letter. We know some governors are doing extremely well in the area of IGR but we know of some others who are waiting for handouts from FAAC.”  (Punch)

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Governors Accuse NNPC Of Fraudulent Subsidy Payment |The Republican News

Maikanti-Baru-NNPC

 

…Seek ban on filling stations at border posts

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

State governors yesterday accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of fraudulently doubling the nation’s daily petrol consumption from about 30 million litres to 60 million litres, and called for a thorough probe of oil subsidy payments from 2015 to date. 

They have also directed that all petrol stations located 10 kilometres to the nation’s borders be immediately shut down by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) until they are recertified. The decision followed NNPC’s excuse that the sudden hike in petrol consumption was due to illegal export to neighbouring countries.
The governors further advocated that all trucks transporting petroleum products be installed with a tracking device in order to monitor their movement to discharge stations.

They also demanded that NNPC must henceforth clearly differentiate its earnings in sales as against taxes before remitting funds to the Federation Account to avoid unexplained shortfalls.
The states chief executives who equally raised concerns over Joint Venture Cash Call claims made by NNPC directed that further payments for such should be suspended until the corporation gives details of exactly how much has been paid since 2015.

A delegation of the governors, led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, expressed these concerns when they met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a meeting on Wednesday night at the Aso Rock Villa, on his return from his two-day official visit to Benue State.
Also in attendance at the closed-door meeting were Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna; and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and that of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, as well as a representative of the NNPC GMD, also attended the meeting which ended at a few minutes after 8pm.
Yari, briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, said, “this is the second time we are meeting with NNPC in respect of remittances into the federation account.  (The Sun)

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We’ve Resolved Nigeria Must Not Break, Say Governors |The Republican News

nigerian governors

• Osinbajo asks state helmsmen to battle hate speech

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

State governors, on Wednesday, said they had resolved that they would not allow Nigeria to break up, stating that those fanning the embers of war were wasting their time.

The governors spoke after their meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in continuation of Osinbajo’s consultations on the recent tension in the country as a result of several agitations.

Oyo State Governor, Abiola, Ajimobi, who spoke on behalf of the other governors, said the governors and other stakeholders had agreed that despite the agitations being witnessed in parts of the country, Nigeria must not break.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of a meeting, Osinbajo stated that any Nigerians expecting the country to break was only wasting his time.

“The message is for Nigerians to work more together and collaborate. We have more to gain when we are united.

“We cannot afford to break, and anybody that is thinking of that, is wasting his time, and we will not allow it, not in this country. All of us are unanimous about that,” he added.

He said the governors resolved that the unity of the country “is sacrosanct, non-negotiable and we have all agreed to work together to educate people.”

Ajimobi added, “Any time you have agitation, usually, there will be poverty; there will be unemployment; there will be a hardship. So, we should address fundamentally these areas of poverty, unemployment and hardship.

“Nigerians are by nature a united people; nobody cares whether you are from the north, south or the east.”

The governor also warned against the consequences of war, urging Nigerians to learn from Rwanda and Somalia.

Osinbajo had appealed to the governors to always be ready to speak up against statements from individuals or groups capable of setting the nation on fire.

He said they must be ready to protect the nation and its democracy from the hands of those who were bent on dividing the country.

He spoke before the meeting, which was held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, went into a closed-door session.

He stated, “We must not allow the careless use of words, careless expressions that may degenerate into crisis.

“We are a people that like to talk and we express ourselves loudly but it is expected for us to recognise that it is those same words that can cause conflagration; that can, unfortunately, lead to calamity. We must be careful on how we express ourselves.

“What we have seen in recent times is that some of the languages (words) used have tended to degenerate badly and I think that we must begin to speak up against some of these things and ensure that we protect our democracy and our nation from the hands of rhetoric that may just divide us.

Osinbajo, who had earlier met separately with leaders of thought and traditional rulers from both the North and the South-East, said those who participated in the previous consultations agreed that Nigeria’s unity should not be taken for granted.

He said nobody wanted the nation to witness bloodshed or war.

While describing the previous meetings as frank and open, Osinbajo said they were able to agree on most of the critical issues that were discussed, and in most cases, changed perceptions that might have been long embedded in their minds.

He added that the participants also agreed that under no circumstances should hateful speeches be condoned and that government should take all steps necessary to bring to book all those who preached violence.

The acting President stated that they also agreed that government needed to do more to engage youths productively, create some jobs and multiply the economic opportunities available.

Osinbajo added, “More importantly, we agreed on the need for leaders to speak out forcefully to counter divisive speech or any kind of warmongering.

“We agreed that leaders, at all levels, must speak out forcefully against any kind of divisiveness or divisive speech. And we expect that our political leaders will do so without waiting to be prompted.

“All of those who spoke felt that sometimes when leaders do not speak up promptly, it always results in degeneration, no matter what the problem may be.

“This applied to both the statements made by the young people in the South-East as well as the youth in the northern states. We discovered there was a need for much greater resonance in the way that these things are done and for the leaders to speak up more forcefully.

“We believe that if the leaders do not speak up forcefully enough, if for any reason, matters are allowed to degenerate, not only does leadership lose their legitimacy, they run the risk of things going completely out of  control.”

He commended the leaders from the North and South-East for their openness at the consultations, saying they were extremely responsible even in their criticisms of what they felt were issues that should have been better handled.

While saying their criticisms were fair and balanced, he commended them for their sense of responsibility and their leadership.

Osinbajo mentioned the issue of herdsmen and farmers crisis, especially the way that some of these had resulted in flashpoints across the country, as one of the issues raised at the previous meetings.

He said it was important that lasting and satisfactory solutions were found to the problems identified.

Describing the problems as multidimensional, Osinbajo said state governors had important roles to play especially because they were in control of their territories.

He stated, “We must resist the temptation to play politics especially with matters of security, but to reach for simplistic narratives that might be originally expedient and satisfying but false, deceiving and sometimes unhealthy to a proper understanding of the issues.”

Governors, who attended the meeting, included Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

Among others are governors from Borno, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Kogi, Lagos, Kebbi, Ondo, Imo, Taraba and Anambra states among others. (Punchng.com)

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Paris Club Loan Refund: Governors Call Emergency Meeting Over EFCC Probe

nigeria-governors-forum

Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

Nigerian governors have summoned an emergency meeting over the ongoing probe of how they spent the N522bn Paris Club loan refund which was shared to the states in December 2016, by the Federal Government.

The Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Bayo Okauru, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday.

Okauru said the governors decided to meet in order to clarify some of the issues being raised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in its investigations.

“Yes, the governors are meeting soon, probably this week to take a position and address some of the issues being raised by the EFCC,” Okauru said.

He, however, said the NGF had nothing to hide in its account.

The PUNCH learnt that EFCC investigators had earlier invited the three signatories to the account of the NGF to its office, where they were questioned on the running of the forum’s account.

The EFCC had earlier told one of our correspondents on Monday that it was at the preliminary stage of the investigation of the 36 state governors in connection with the N522bn Paris Club loan refund, which was shared to the states by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had, in December, 2016, approved N522.74bn to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement for the over-deductions on the Paris Club loan.

The state governments had submitted their claims of over-deductions for external debt servicing arising between 1995 and 2002 to the Federal Government due to the first line charge deductions from the federal allocations.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday, that no governor had been indicted so far.

The statement read in part, “The commission wishes to state unequivocally, that no state governor or the Senate President has been indicted so far by the investigation which is still at a preliminary stage.

“Also, insinuations about a cover-up by some officials of the commission are untrue as there is no incentive to do so.

“The commission implores the media to be circumspect in the reportage of this delicate issue in order not to jeopardise ongoing investigation, and be assured that they would be fully briefed of developments as soon as a breakthrough is achieved.”

Many of the states reportedly shared their portions with their local governments mostly to settle the backlog of salaries and some of the state-owned debts.

The money was, however, not shared evenly among the states. As of January, N388bn of the money had been released to the states.

Rivers, Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Baylesa states were said to have received N14.5bn each while Imo, Niger, Jigawa and Borno states received about N13bn each.

Yobe, Plateau, Ogun, Abia and Zamfara states were said to have received N10bn each while Sokoto, Osun, Kogi, Kebbi, Edo, Cross River and Anambra states got about N11bn each.

Benue and Bauchi states reportedly got about N12bn each.

Other states are Ebonyi, N3.3bn; Adamawa, N4.8bn; Gombe, N8.3bn; Ekiti, N8.8bn; Enugu, N9.9bn; Kwara, N5.4bn; Ondo, N6.5bn; Nasarawa, N8.4bn; Ondo, N6.5bn; Taraba, N4.2bn; and Oyo, N7.2bn.   (Punchng.com)

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