Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has reiterated that the bailout fund of about N7.8 billion it received from the Federal Government and the two tranches of the Paris Club Refund of about N20 billion received has so far been used to pay-up gratuities it inherited from Donald Duke’s administration.
This statement was made known over the weekend by the SSA and Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Christian Ita, who said, the present administration inherited gratuity right totaling over N20 billion and has, courtesy of the bailout and Paris Club Funds paid up to 2015 while affirming that the state currently owes no salaries – even as he described salary debt in Cross River as a thing of the past.
If you recalled, Calabar Reporters had reported that Cross River State is among the states that is yet to use the funds judiciously. This was in accord with the survey published by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
NAN reported that the Cross River Government was yet to settle the arrears of retirees’ gratuities in the state. One of them, Andem Antigha, said that since 2015 when he retired, he had not been paid his gratuity.
Investigation showed that the state government’s UBA account into which the refund was paid was frozen on the order of an Abuja High Court. This followed a dispute between it and a consulting firm over the payment of the Paris club refund.
But, Ita in his new statement has responded to an allegation from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) through its chairman, Comrade Clarkson Otu that the state government has used only N1.1 billion from the said funds.
“Both the bailout funds they got and the two tranches of the Paris Club refund have not been deployed for the purpose they were meant. Particularly, the first tranche they got of about N11.3 billion, I can tell you that they have spent only N1.1 billion to pay part of 2013 gratuities.
“As I speak with you, gratuities for 2013 are still pending. They paid some and after exhausting the N1.1 billion, they stopped.
“Then, the second tranche of the Paris Club refund came to about N6 billion. As I speak with you, not one kobo has been deployed for any purpose to my knowledge,” Comrade Clarkson said.
If the fund was paid as stipulated by Ita, then why did Labour struck few months ago? And from the incisions as lamented by the Labour Chair, it therefore holds that, there is a bigotry and some shady deals ongoing.