The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as cheap blackmail, the decision by the Kogi State government and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governors’ Forum to blame political interference for the delay in releasing bailout funds for the state.
The PDP Governors Forum had last Friday, through its coordinator, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, warned the Central Bank of Nigeria against allowing itself to be used by the APC to play politics with Kogi’s bailout funds.
“We urge the CBN to insulate itself from politics and the control of the ruling party if it does not want to create political and financial crises in the country”, part of the statement by Mr. Onaiwu read.
However, in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the governing party said it had no business with the release or otherwise of the bailout funds to Kogi state.
“This accusation is in line with the new-found propensity of the PDP to blame everyone but itself for the woes that have befallen the party in recent times. If the opposition party is not accusing the APC of colluding with the judiciary over the election petition cases, it is accusing the ruling party of colluding with the CBN over bailout funds. This is sickening”, it said.
APC said the Kogi State Government should go and sort itself out with the CBN, if indeed it wants to get the bailout funds.
“Our investigations have revealed that the Kogi State Government has not been able to justify the over 50 billion Naira it is asking for as bailout funds. It is curious that the chunk of the funds which the state is asking for, over 40 billion Naira, is for the payment of the salaries of Local Government workers.
“The state is saying the backlog of salaries owed to these categories of workers dates back to 2011. How can that be, when Nigeria was not even broke in 2011? How can the state be owing Local Government workers when it has been collecting 2.2 billion Naira monthly in allocation for Local Governments, amounting to over 100 billion Naira in four years? What happened to the Local Government allocations collected by the state if it is owing LG workers since 2011?
“The figures and explanations tendered by the Kogi State Government to justify the request for 50.8 billion Naira in bailout funds are not tenable, especially because only 4.9 billion Naira of the amount is for the payment of workers in the state civil service.
“Nigerians should bear in mind that the bailout funds are not for anything beyond the payment of workers’ salaries. The onus is therefore on the Kogi State Government to justify its request for 50.8 billion Naira, and to assure the CBN that the state is not seeing the funds as slush money. It is the failure to do just that, rather than any so-called political interference that has denied the state government of accessing the funds so far”, the party said.
APC further reminded the PDP Governors’ Forum, which has been quick to jump into the fray without doing its own due diligence, that the initiative to bail the states out of their inability to pay workers’ salaries was at the instance of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration, and meant to provide much-needed succour to the workers.
“Therefore, it does not make sense for anyone to accuse the ruling party or an agency of the same government of frustrating the release of the funds. Kogi State has no one but itself to blame for the quagmire in which it has found itself over the bailout funds”, the party said.