FG accuses Cross River of misappropriating N19b bailout fund
The Federal Government has accused the Cross River State government of misappropriating N19billion, which was given to it as bailout fund to pay salaries and pension.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Okoi Obono-Obla, told The Guardian on Tuesday that “the president had bailed the state out twice but the funds were not judiciously used?”
He explained that the Federal Government gave N7.8billion to the state in July 2016 and another N11.5billion in December to settle all outstanding indebtedness.
Obono-Obla asked: “Why has Governor Benedict Ayade not paid civil servants and pensioners. Why are the residents not asking questions if we must clamour for true federalism?”
Also, the National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ntufam Hilliard Eta, urged the governor to explain how the bailout fund and the Paris Club debt were spent, since they were loans.
He appealed to the governor to invest in infrastructure that would benefit the masses, adding that the state’s position during the public hearing organised by the Senate, showed lack of accountability.
The state Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), John Ushie, had, last week, threatened to go on strike to compel the governor to pay them their entitlements.
But, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor and Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Christian Ita denied that the fund was misappropriated.He said: “What Obono-Obla is doing is personal pursuit of a narrow interest. 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.
“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 said.