The two main labour movements in the country, the Trade Union Congress and the Nigeria Labour Congress on Monday, differed on the disbursement of fresh N500bn Paris Club loan refund to state governments.
While the NLC said that governors, who were unable to account for the first tranche of the refund should not be paid, the TUC supported a call by a former governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (retd.) that the Federal Government should investigate the initial payment before releasing the second one.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to release the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund to states.
The President had said that the money-about N500m-should be used to pay salaries of workers.
The Federal Government had in a few months ago released N522bn as the first tranche of the refund.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was reported to be investigating seven governors over the payment of N19bn out of the N522bn into their accounts.
Umar, in a statement on Monday in Abuja called on the President to suspend the disbursement of the N500bn Paris-London Club loan refund to states.
According to him, it is obvious that most of the earlier released funds were deployed for other purposes by state governors other than payment of salaries and pension arrears as directed by the President.
Umar’s position was contained in a terse statement he issued on Monday night in Abuja entitled: “Paris-London Club refund to the States.”
He said, “It is now revealed that some state governors contracted consultants with fees ranging from 10 to 30 per cent to secure refund from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“With this shocking revelation, President Muhammadu Buhari should suspend his order to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria, for the release of the second tranche of the refund.
“It is also evident now that most of the earlier released funds were deployed for other purposes than payment of salaries and pension areas as directed by Mr. President. This impunity has got to stop.”
Also, the President of the TUC, Mr. Baka Kaigama, in an interview with one of our correspondents said that he supported the call by Umar that the first tranche should be investigated before the release of the second one.
He said, “The only person that is interested in the welfare of the masses of this country is the President and not the governors. If they have a very clear understanding of the payment of salaries, arrears of pension and gratuities, when they collected money, they did it their own way.
“I support the call of Umar that the disbursement of the first tranche be investigated before the release of the second tranche.”
But the NLC said that state governors who were not able to account for the first tranche of the Parish Club refund should not get the second.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said that while the Federal Government should pay state governments that had made judicious use of the first tranche of the funds, proper investigation should be conducted before the release of the second tranche.
On his part, the Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke, said the states should be encouraged to account for their claims from the Paris Club Refund