The Federal Government has accused Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State of misappropriating bailout funds given to the state to clear arrears of workers’ salaries and pension.
The allegation was made by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Okoi Obono-Obla, who told journalists that Governor Ayade’s administration received bailout funds from the federal government twice in 2016 and yet workers in Cross River State still complain of owed salaries.
“Why has Governor Benedict Ayade not paid civil servants and pensioners?”Obono-Obla queried.
“Why are the residents not asking questions if we must clamour for true federalism?“The president had bailed the state out twice but the funds were not judiciously used.” He added.
The presidential aide clarified that Cross River State received N7.8 billion as bailout in July 2016 and another N11.5 billion in December to settle all outstanding indebtedness.
Similarly, National Vice Chairman, South-South, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, demanded that governor Ayade explains how the bailout fund as well as the Paris Club debt were spent, since they were loans.
He said that the governor should invest State funds in infrastructural development that would benefit the masses.
However, Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor denied that the bailout funds were misappropriated.
Ita accused the presidential aide, Obono-Obla of pursuing “personal” and“narrow interest.”He explained that “the delay at the local councils level had to do with technical hitches in the process of bio-verification.”
“We are aware that while some people have not earned their salaries for up to six months, others had been paid up to March 2016. So it is not a question of lack of money but that of trying to address the technical challenges,” Ita clarified.
“Government had raised an inter-ministerial panel, mandating commissioners to go to local councils to supervise the exercise. As soon as it is completed, everybody would be paid,” he assured.
Recall that the Cross River State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, John Ushie, last week, threatened an industrial action to press home workers’ demands for their salaries and allowances.