The Bayelsa State Government has deplored the attempt to incite civil servants across the country against state governments over the Paris Club refund money.
The state’s deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboriobiogha John Jonah, who said this during the monthly transparency briefing held at the Government House, Yenagoa, explained that state governments were angry with the Federal Government because its recent statement on the Paris Club refund was intended to pitch state workers against their governors.
He disclosed that though there was an initial agreement approved by President Muhammadu Buhari on the release of the Paris Club fund to states, the excuses given by the Federal Ministry of Finance on the effect of excess funds into the economy and the pronouncements over amount released were heating up the polity and fuelling crisis of confidence between state workers and the governors.
According to him, Ministry of Finance officials were the ones causing the confusion as they advised against carrying out the directive of President Buhari.
His words “There was an understanding that the money should be refunded to the states. So, the chart was drawn up and the entitlement from every state was written. Please, it is not a gift from the federal government to states to pay salaries. It is States’ owned money that must be refunded. The way the Federal Government is trying to play it out, states are blaming the Federal Government for inciting workers against them. It was then decided that they will pay the money in two halves”
“The Federal Ministry of Finance and CBN said that if the money was released at once, there will be too much money in circulation, so let it be divided into four parts and released twenty five percent at a time. When the first part was released, Bayelsa would have gotten N21.168billion but when the money came they could not release the 25%, they released to us N14.5billion. But the first tranche was supposed to be N21.168billion but the initial released was N14.5billion and it was announced immediately. But I want to say that the entire money was not for the state government alone, N1.3b was for the local government councils. The state government used the balance of N13.2b to offset some part of salaries and also for contractors we owe.”
Jonah noted that as deputy governor of the state and representative of Bayelsa State at the Governors’ Forum and National Economic Council meetings where the Paris Club issue were discussed, the facts of the matter were been slanted to favour of the Federal Government.