Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has met with various categories of workers in the state’s civil service, local government workers, trade union leaders and sundry stakeholders on the modalities for sharing the N4.7 billion recently received by the state government as Paris Club refund.
At the meeting held at Government House, on Thursday, also involved political office holders both at the state and local governments and teachers, Governor Fayose said his administration decided to commit the totality of the state’s share of the Paris Club refund to paying workers’ salaries and emoluments because of his belief in giving priority to the welfare of the people.
Teachers had demanded the payment of arrears of their salaries; the Ekiti State University (EKSU) called for the payment of their January subvention, while local government workers asked that arrears of their leave bonus be paid.
The governor gave the workers time to harmonise their demands, with the workers announcing afterwards that they had concluded that the money be used to pay their salaries, allowances.
The governor also said he called the meeting to give workers the opportunity to decide on their areas of priority.
He noted that though the N4.7 billion that came to the state and the 16 local governments felt short of expectations, state governors were hopeful that the Federal Government would pay the balance of the refund soon.
“I was the first to announce the receipt of the money and after consulting with union leaders, it was agreed that a bigger house be called. At the end of the day we got N4.7 billion and the state is to get N2.9 billion and the 16 local governments to share N1.8 billion. In the first refund, we got N8 8 billion that was shared with state getting N5.4 billion and the local governments getting N3.4 billion.
“I know the agitation by teachers, especially at primary school level, but the reality is that we just have to make do with what we have and hope for the best. Allocations coming to local governments are handled by members of Joint Allocation and Appropriation Committee of which I am not a member.
“All observations about how to disburse the money are to be directed to members of the committee and they will decide on the areas of priority. We are going to give members of the committees at state and local government levels some time to deliberate and come back on how to disburse the funds,” he said.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGEE), Mr Bummi Ajimoko, said he was happy that the governor was carrying along labour leaders on how to utilize the money.
He said workers and retirees deserved the attention and priority given them.
The Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Mr Adeniyi Gbenga, commended the governor for being a man of his words.
“We appreciate you for standing by your words. Our expectations dwindled when we got the figure that was released to the state, but we have confidence in you. We have a lot of issues pensions, gratuities, but whatever is our priorities must be paid as soon as possible,” he said.
The labour leaders later agreed to send the areas of priority of the disbursement of the fund to the Office of the Accountant General of the state for onward payment.