Some of the outgoing governors have blamed their inability to pay their workers salaries for upward of six to seven months on the dwindling allocation from the federation account, as is the case with Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, but the Federal Government on Wednesday absolved itself of blame in the inability of some state governments to pay their workers’ salaries.
It said the governors of such states should be blamed for the development in their states because they were told through the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee to make the issue of wage a priority.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said this in a statement by her Special Adviser on Communications, Paul Nwabuikwu.
The statement was necessitated by the All Progressives Congress governors’ claim that the negative manner the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan administration was running the economy had made it difficult for them to pay salaries regularly.
But Okonjo-Iweala said that despite the 50 per cent drop in gross federally collectible revenue, the Federal Government had made the issue of workers’ salaries a top priority in order to ensure that the “people do not feel the negative impact of the revenue drop on the economy.”
For instance, the minister said that contrary to the “misinformation being put forward by certain governors to the effect that federal workers are being owed, staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date.”
She said in the five paragraph statement that the states, being one of the three tiers of government that receive monthly allocations from the Federation Account, should be blamed for their predicament.
The statement read, “This is to clarify the misinformation put forward by certain governors to the effect that Federal workers are being owed salaries.
“This is incorrect. Staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date; workers have received their April salaries.
“Regarding difficulties in salary payments, certain governors are trying to blame the Federal Government for their predicament. This is wrong. They had been told through the FAAC to prioritise salaries but they chose not to do so, hence the backlog that some states are experiencing.
“The 50 per cent drop in revenues simply means that salaries should be prioritised. The Federal Government should not be blamed for avoidable mistakes made at the state level.”
The APC governors had during a meeting with the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on Tuesday, expressed frustrations about their inability to pay workers’ salaries.
They therefore appealed to Buhari to consider a bailout plan for all the 36 state governments after his inauguration on May 29.
They said, “One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in a bad shape.
“We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him. As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the Federal Government has not paid April salaries and that is very worrisome, by May and June, that (salaries) will be in cumulative of three months.
“We wonder with the huge expectation of Nigerians and people who have voted us into power, we are hoping that the president-elect will do everything humanly possible to bring about a bailout not only for the states but the Federal Government, at least for people to get their salaries and turn around the economy.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress had on April 28, insisted that state governors must pay outstanding salaries before the May 29 handover date.
The factional Deputy President of the NLC, Peters Adeyemi, said at the ninth National Delegates conference of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria in Abuja, that workers had commenced the campaign to prevail on the governors to pay outstanding salaries before May 29.
The National Administrative Council of the NLC had on March 19, 2015 set up a committee to compel state governments to pay over eight months salary arrears owed workers.
The congress had on December 31, 2014 said that 11 states owed workers salaries.
Adeyemi said that workers should not be made to bear the brunt of the mismanagement of the economy as they were not part of those who looted the treasury.