NLC tells FG: Don’t release remaining N649bn Paris Club refund to outgoing governors

The Nigeria Labour Congress and some civil society organisations have advised the Federal Government to delay the disbursement of the N649bn Paris Club  refund to states until after  the  inauguration of incoming governors on May 29.

The advice  followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday that the Federal Government was set to disburse the outstanding N649.434bn to  states. Speaking at a press conference  on the activities of her ministry, Ahmed  said  the  money  was  the last tranche of the refund.

She said, “For the final phase of the Paris Club debt refund, the total sum of N649.434bn was verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded  state governments.

But reacting to the development, the President  of the NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, told reporters on Friday that the union’s recommendation to the  Federal Government would be to delay the disbursement  of the money till after May 29, when  the newly elected governors would have been sworn in. He said the reasons border on accountability and the manner  the  previous refunds were used  by some governors.

Wabba  said, “The incumbent governors have a few days to go, so I am of the strong view that the money should actually be given to the  incoming governors who would start on a clean slate and address substantial issues in governance.

“Clearly, some of the outgoing governors would like to use the money to pay severance allowances, which I think is not a priority,  and you know that some of the states have spent huge amount of money on  their  build-up  for  the 2019 elections.”

The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project also said the disbursement  of the money should be deferred  until after May 29.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in an interview with Punch, said, “Since many of them are  in  the twilight of their tenure, the payment should be delayed till after the inauguration of new governors.

“If somebody has only a couple of days (11 days) to the end of his tenure, why give them an opportunity to superintend that volume of money.”

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