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Months after the Federal Government released relief funds to help the 36 states in the country clear the backlog of their workers' salaries and pensions; issues that gave rise to that disbursement have continued unabated as if no effort at remedying the situation had been made.

Months after the Federal Government released relief funds to help the 36 states in the country clear the backlog of their workers' salaries and pensions; issues that gave rise to that disbursement have continued unabated as if no effort at remedying the situation had been made.

The release of the initial N300 billion bailout funds was thought to be enough to be used in taking care of the plight of workers who have suffered unpaid emoluments for upward of one year or more in some states.
Not even the extension of the lifespan of over N660 billion commercial loans, which the Debt Management Office, DMO, had granted states in the country, could be used by some governors to pay workers their entitlements. This was as an additional N90 billion was given to 22 states to meet their obligations to workers, which was also not utilized to clear the backlog of unpaid salaries. Unfortunately, while the states were under pressure from various stakeholders to fulfill the terms and conditions of the initial funds, the Federal Government again made available to them the Paris Club loan refunds in different sums, ranging from N6 billion to over N14 billion to stabilize their commitments.
In the face of these interventions, Nigerians were shocked to recently learn from the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN that no fewer than 19 states are still in default of paying their workers and pensioners!
The inability of the state governors to convince people about how they spent the funds and the failure of the Federal Government to sanction state chief executives still defaulting in their commitment to workers have further given room to criticisms and charges of complicity in some quarters. While these non-payments have thrown workers, pensioners and their families into abject poverty, the governors involved have remained indifferent as their pecks of office do not suffer and they are alleged to be neck-deep in the mindless plundering of their state's resources. This brazen display of insensitivity has been blamed on the weird kind of federal system of government being practiced in Nigeria which allows the centre to be the powerhouse of the federating units.
The continued failure of states to meet their obligations to workers further reinforces the call for Nigeria to be restructured to allow each federating unit maximally explore and control the resources in their domain, instead of relying on the monthly allocations from the federation account to meet their responsibility to their constituents. It is imperative stakeholders consider the call for the restructuring of Nigeria as a panacea to the problems associated with this feeding bottle federalism practiced in the country. It is feared that if states continue to depend on this monthly hand out, the most diligent governor can become lazy on that account. This is also the time to revisit the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference on fiscal federalism and resource control.
While at that, it bears pointing out that it is the height of wickedness for some over-fed state governors to deliberately impoverish their people by diverting monies meant for the payment of the entitlement of suffering workers. Nigeria Moment condemns the failure of the Federal Ministry of Finance to apply heavy sanctions against the states that failed to make judicious use of the monies given to them as bailout.
This is despite the growing calls by the people to be carried along in the disclosure of how much each state has received and how much of it had been expended for the payment of these salaries and pensions, among other areas.
Given that the Finance ministry has acknowledged that some governors failed woefully in fulfilling the condition that 50 per cent of the funds be used to settle salaries and pensions, the refusal of the ministry to wield the big stick is a disservice to Nigerians. The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun must come out to justify her claim that: “The Federal Government's disbursement process was transparent and targeted at the attainment of specific economic objectives”. Her failure to compel the states to publish how they spent the funds is also an indictment on her assertion that: “It is the standard practice in the Ministry of Finance to undertake an independent monitoring of compliance with the terms and conditions of funds released”.
Nigeria Moment urges the Federal Government to stop further release of bailout funds to states under any guise, but channel such resources to the provision of basic amenities for the people who are the ones bearing the brunt of these misapplications. That way the state governors would be creative enough to explore the potentials in their respective states. We believe that there is none of the 36 states that does not have endowments that can be explored to be financially self-reliant. But we are also aware that states would be empowered to do if there is a restructuring of the federation. Nigeria should therefore get about this.

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