By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has commended the Federal Government on its directives to the states to account for the previous Paris Club Refund released to them before being given the last tranche.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
It would be recalled that Federal Government had approved $2.68 billion as final payment to states for the Paris Club Refund.
The Federal Government also directed the states to account for how the Paris Club refund released to them were utilised before being given the last tranche.
Some of the conditions are that salaries and staff-related arrears must be paid as a priority; and that there must be commitment by all states to the commencement of the repayment of budget support loans granted in 2016.
Other conditions include clearing of amounts due to the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, among others.
According to him, “clearly speaking, it is a step in the right direction and it should not end there.
“We should know the outcome and how many states have been able to meet up with that requirement.
“We have said so clearly. If you want to entrench the principle of good governance, accountability and transparency must be our watchword.
“The Federal Government directives on the Paris Club refund should not just end with mere words but with action, as a lot of stories of how the other trenches have been utilised are circulating,’’ the NLC boss said.
He said that the ICPC report on the utilization of the first tranche of bail-out fund should be revisited and implemented to the latter.
Wabba also noted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had openly made allegation on how some people used the bail-out to purchase hotels and also transferred part of it to Bureau de change.
“We cannot sweep those issues under the carpet and think that the issue of corruption and diversion of public funds will be addressed.
“That is clearly our challenge in this country, and not lack of resources. The truth is that this country has enormous resources, but they are diverted.
“The fight against corruption cannot be limited to the centre. It must go to the hinterland, to the local government, the states and even the private sector,” Wabba said.
He added that government directive should not just end as a statement, but should be followed up to its logical conclusion.
“There should be action and we should be able to know those states that have done such things.
“ICPC did a good job on the first tranche of bail-out that was released and came up with a report, disclosing those states where those funds were diverted.
“We have also called on the government and the anti graft agencies to make sure that the report is followed up and those people brought to book, but nothing has happened.
“We have states that did not access the bailout and yet they are paying salaries, pension and gratuity as and when due so it is not a matter of paucity of funds,’’ Wabba said.