Labour unions and recipient Banks of the N34.5 billion bailout funds given to Osun State government have declared that the fund was exclusively used for payment of arrears of salaries, allowances in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) guidelines and directives.
In a statement by the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, the representatives of the banks, Adebayo Yakub (First Bank), Musbau Oyeniran (Wema Bank) and Ola Adedeji (Zenith Bank) – and the labour leaders made the declaration while testifying before the State House of Assembly during the probing into the concessionary loan, popularly referred to as bailout fund at a special plenary on Wednesday.
This was as the Accountant-General of the State, Akintayo Kolawole and the labour leaders said, the pension arrears were not captured in the bailout fund but the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in his magnanimity and agreement with labour decided that the pensioners, having served the state diligently, must be included in the disbursement of the fund.
The Assembly had directed some government officials, labour unions and relevants organisations to appear before it for the probe of the fund given to state by the Federal Government, subject to a motion by one of the lawmakers, calling for the probing of the fund.
According to the statement, the representatives of the three banks involved told the Osun legislators that, “We can confirm that we followed the CBN guidelines in the way and manner the bailout loan was disbursed. All the payment we made on the bailout fund were for salaries, allowances and pensions.
“The figures shown by the Accountant General and permanent secretary, Local Government affairs, were correct. We can also confirm that the balance shown are the balance figures in the banks.”
Also, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Jacob Adekomi and his counterparts from the Joint negotiation Council (JNC), Bayo Adejumo, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGEE), and Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT), Wakeel Amuda, according to the statement, confirmed that they monitored the fund and found that it was used for salary, allowances and pensions.
They said, the labour unions and the state government agreed on how to spend the bailout fund and the government respected the agreement by spending the fund in line with the CBN guidelines.
According to each of them, pensioners were not captured in the fund released to the state government, but they prevailed on the governor and had an understanding to include the pensioners, which the governor magnanimously agreed.
The labour leaders confirmed that the government set up a committee, headed by the first NLC President, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, with labour unions and other stakeholders as members to monitor the fund and the revenue from other sources, saying this has given them the opportunity to monitor the transactions.
Presenting the analysis of the fund, the Accountant-General said, the state government had requested for N64,327,492,947.01 to cover salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuties, but the CBN approved only N25,871,920,000 to cover just salaries and allowance, leaving out pension and gratuities.
“No fund was released for pension and gratuity despite the fact that we included it in our letter to the CBN. We explained this to the pensioners repeatedly but they did not believe us.
“If you look at the letter we wrote for N64bn, it covered every category of staff. They pensioners should not have been paid from the fund, but for the magnanimity of the governor, who said we must include them because they had served the state diligently.
“It will also interest you to note that what I presented here is the same document I sent to the ICPC and I believe they are satisfied, because it is about six months now and they have not return to ask any other question”.
He said, inspite the non-inclusion of pensions, the government had paid the pensioners up till August 2016 in line with modulated salary structures as applicable to civil servants in the state
According to him, as at November 30,2016, the state government still has N2.040 billion in First Bank and N1.312 billion in Wema Bank as balance of the bailout fund, which according to him, would be used to augment salaries in months to come.
The statement further noted that he stressed that the government has demonstrated high sense of responsibility in the application of the fund.
For the arrears of salaries, allowance, pension and gratuities of local governments workers, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Mufutau Oluwadare, the statement added, said, a sum of N23,887,975,810.26 was requested, but only N9,117,070,000 was approved and released by the CBN.
According to him, it was this that sum up to N34bn released to both state and local government, saying, the fund released was not inclusive of the pension, but they were magnanimously included to ensure that they are paid, just like the serving government officials.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Honourable Najeem Salaam, the statement further noted, said, based on the analysis made on the disbursement of the fund, there was no any other way it could be shown that the fund was used for the purpose of salary, allowances and pensions.
Salam, who debunked the insinuations that the House was prompted to investigate the bailout fund based on the decision of the Senate to investigate the matter, said, the Assembly had been following the application of the fund since 2015.
He cited a letter dated 12th November 2015 with reference No: LM94/vol4/277 in which the House requested the Accountant General to give update on the Sukuk Bond, bailout fund and multilateral loans of the state and it was responded to through another letter, detailing the disbursement of the funds.
“We have been monitoring the activities of the executive on how the bailout and other loans are being spent. If the Senate wants to come for its oversight function, we will not say they shouldn’t come, but it has to come through relevant state authority, which is the state legislative arm.
“We are not fighting with the Senate. We are not saying that the Senate can’t perform it’s oversight function but things have to be properly done,” Salam said