The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has approved N20 billion as bailout for the Kogi Government.
The state governor, Yahaya Bello, announced this on Sunday in Lokoja while addressing a rally held by organised labour to mark this year’s May Day celebration.
Mr. Bello explained that the N20 billion was the first tranche of the N50 billion applied for to clear salary arrears of the state and local government workers.
He blamed the delay in the release of the fund on the last administration, saying that the application submitted by his predecessor was shoddily done and fraught with irregularities.
“We had to start from scratch. We are glad to announce that our efforts have paid off. This week, we received approval to draw down on the first tranche of our Bailout Funds from the Federal Government.
“This will amount to about N20 billion. We will draw down on the balance of about N30 billion as we meet the milestones for implementation of the first tranche, as set by the Central Bank of Nigeria,“ he explained.
Mr. Bello promised to fully expend the money on workers’ salaries, so as to guarantee industrial harmony.
Speaking on the ongoing screening of state and local government workers, the governor said that all sorts of tricks were devised to shortchange the workers, describing as worst, the scourge of ghost workers in the civil service.
“Thousands of non-existent workers were being paid from the Kogi State coffers, thus bringing it under undue strain and leaving the real workers either totally unpaid or only receiving meagre percentages of their wages.
“I was a former Federal Civil Servant. I was never owed salaries during my time in service. When we came into office, Kogi 2orkers were already on strike for at least 6 weeks, fed up with the then PDP Government’s lack of transparency.
“It hurt me that a so-called Government could receive all the Federal Allocations due to it and still find the heart to leave workers unpaid,” he said.
According to him, the state government had also been inundated with allegations of collusion between some labour executives and the past administrations in cheating the very workers they claimed to be representing.
“We will of course investigate and anyone found culpable will have a date with the anti-corruption agencies,” he said.
Mr. Bello drew a wild applause from the jubilant workers when he announced that his administration had started cooking something nice for them and the entire people of the state.
He promised to remain committed to improving the lot of workers and freeing them from slavery and injustices that had been built into the system for long.
The governor appealed to the striking lecturers of the Kogi State University to call off the strike in the interest of the students, saying that government was ready to meet their demands within its limited resources.
Earlier in his address, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Onu Edoka, charged workers to remain calm and give their full support to the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello.
He also told them that labour was keenly following the ongoing screening of state and local government workers and assured that the union will not allow any worker to be unjustly treated.
Highlights of the event was the donation of two 18-seater buses to the NLC and the state chapter of the Trade Union Congress and the march-past by members of the affiliate unions.