By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration released a bailout of N1.64 trillion to states and local governments between 2015 and 2017 as part of measures to stabilise the polity.
President Muhammadu Buhari revealed this in a broadcast to commemorate Nigeria’s 57th Independence anniversary on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the funds were released to enable the states and local governments to “pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.
“Furthermore, in order to stabilize the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states in the form of State Excess Crude Account loans, Budget Support Facility, and Stabilization Fund Release to state and local government as follows:
“N200 billion in 2015, N441 billion in 2016 and N1 trillion in 2017, altogether totaling N1.64 trillion.
“This was done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.’’
The president disclosed that the Federal Government’s current N500 billion Special Intervention Programme targeted groups through the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme and the N-Power Programme as well as providing loans to small-scale traders and artisans.
He said that the intervention programme also covered the Conditional Cash Transfer, Family Homes Fund and Social Housing Scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that civil servants and retirees in some states are still being owed by their governments, backlog of unpaid salaries, pensions and other benefits. These had led to strikes and work stoppages.
Buhari had on Sept. 11, appealed to state governors to pay all understanding salaries of their workers, and accumulated pensions of ex-workers from the additional funds provided to them by the Federal Government.
He made the appeal when he met with members of the National Council of Traditional Rulers at the new Banquet hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He had frowned at the inability of the concerned state governments to pay retirement benefits and outstanding salaries of workers with their shares of Paris Club Loan Refunds paid to them.
“We have to digress this much because I would like to convince you that I’m living with the problems of this country day-by-day, and mostly those of the ordinary people.
“There are Nigerians that haven’t been paid for six months; there are Nigerians that have not been paid their retirement benefits for years.
“I’m appealing to the governors (that was why we voted money, we borrowed money), please make sure you pay anybody under you, pay them because most of them depend on that salary to pay rent, school fees,’’ he had said. (NAN)