Akwa Ibom State government is said to have collected about N30 billion being Paris Club Refunds from the Federal Government last week.
Though the state government is yet to make public the exact amount collected, Bayelsa State government on Tuesday, September 25 confirmed collection of N24.16 Paris Club refunds from the Federal Government.
The Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Hassan Dodo said on Tuesday, September 11 that the Federal Government had approved $2.69 billion as phased payments to Nigerian states that did not owe a backlog of salaries and other related matters.
So far, Akwa Ibom government had collected N34.5 billion from three tranches of the refunds released from December 1, 2016 to September 29, 2017.
Senator Ita Enang, who stated this on Friday under Team Nigeria programme broadcast by Planet 101.1 FM, Uyo, called on the state government to declare the exact amount to Akwa Ibom people and how the money would be spent in line with Federal Government’s directive.
Enang who is a Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate) explained that part of the money is supposed to be budgeted for the payment of New Minimum Wage which is under negotiation.
It is believed that the failure by the Federal Government to reach an agreement with the organised labour on the wage increment has forced the labour to call on workers to embark on the current three days’ nationwide strike.
The APC bigwig further reminded the governor to judiciously utilise the money by paying gratuities and arrears of pensions to workers owed by the state government over the years.
Already, retired civil servants, primary school teachers and local government staffers in the state are owed gratuities and arrears of pensions running into billions while many civil servants are being owed arrears of promotion and salaries.
The Paris Club loan over-deduction dated to 1995 when state governments complained to Federal government to return the said amount and the apex government handed over to Debt Management Office, DMO, which reconciled it in November 2016.
At the beginning of payment, President Buhari had directed Nigerian state governments to use the refunds to pay workers’ salaries and clear a backlog of pensions, among others.