Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has cried out over the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to withdraw the Paris Club refund from the state’s account.
The Governor, however, urged the people of the state to remain calm, following the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw the final tranche of Paris club refund initially sent to the state.
Ortom expressed shock at the decision and expressed the hope that the decision will be reversed in the interest of workers and retirees of the state.
A Statement made available to newsmen by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Ortom noted that plans had been concluded to start paying up workers salaries and pensions with the fund before the withdrawal.
The statement added, “Following the Governor’s directive to the state Ministry of Finance, payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities was set to commence today, only for the people to wake up with the demoralizing news of Federal Government’s recall of the funds from the state’s accounts.
“We hope this latest move is not part of the ongoing witch-hunt of the state. Benue people have already suffered enough impunity and attacks.
“We also hope that the withdrawal order was made in error, because the said funds are not grants from the Federal Government.
“This was a refund of funds the Federal Government has been owing Benue over the years, so they shouldn’t make it look as though they had given the state a loan or a grant.”
Governor Ortom assured the people that the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, NGF, will meet today and take an official position on the matter.
Meanwhile,the Federal Government, yesterday, ordered recall of the second tranche of the London and Paris Club Refunds disbursed to five states, amounting to about $2.7 billion (N972 billion.)
No reason for the recall was given.
The states involved are Delta, Imo, Benue, Rivers and Osun.
But the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has called for an emergency meeting to challenge the action which some of them believe was politically motivated.
Our correspondent also gathered that the recall is done directly from the states’ accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
However, many of the states confirmed that the money had already been spent mostly on payment of workers’ salary arrears.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said he directed the commencement of payment of salary arrears, pensions and gratuity from the N14.9 billion Paris Club refund received by the state to pave way for speedy payment of the funds to workers and retirees.
Osun State Commissioner for Information, Adelani Baderinwa, claimed the government was yet to be informed and cannot speak on the refund because the Paris Club Refund has been spent on workers’ salary.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar has called an emergency meeting of the Forum for today at the NGF Secretariat in Abuja by 3:00 pm. The meeting has just one agenda, CBN’s recall of the London & Paris Club Refunds to States.
Yari, in the invitation to the other governors, requested them to come along with at least three (3) months evidence of salary payment as well as evidence of any challenge related to the payment of salaries in their states. Recall that the Federal Government said that the states should clear backlog of salaries and other related staff arrears before they would be able to access the remaining $2.7 billion Paris Club Refund.
RSG Alerts On Orchestrated Media Campaign
The Rivers State Government has raised alarm over alleged moves by some critics of the government to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the state government.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, reads, “The Rivers State Government is aware of clandestine plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“This is as a result of the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and sports development.
“This orchestrated campaign spearheaded by a defeated and dumped governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is designed to portray the government of Governor Wike as one that is not meeting the developmental aspirations of Rivers people.
“However, the uncommon transformation of the 23 local government areas as witnessed during the last six years of projects commissioning and flag off shows clearly that Governor Wike is actually meeting the yearnings of the people.
“The fact that Rivers people that turn out en mass at the various projects sites to heartily welcome their beloved governor and his guests drawn from all political divides is a clear indication that Rivers people can no longer be swayed by cheap politically induced blackmail.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC government that boasted that Governor Wike will not see money to pay workers’ salaries and execute projects has been humbled by the revolution in governance currently witnessed in the state.
“Instead of people like Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his acolytes to eat the humble pie, they are busy looking for cheap popularity through sponsored appearances in the media.
“No matter how hard these detractors push their propaganda, Governor Wike will never be distracted in executing his social contract with the people of Rivers State.
“In the next few weeks, more projects that have direct bearing to the lives of Rivers people will be unveiled.
“Governor Wike’s promise to continue working as if this is his first tenure and not abandon any project remains sacrosanct.
“Rivers people are watching those whose stock in trade is to dance naked and pray that they continue as merchants of mischief, falsehood and baseless allegations.”
“The people of Rivers State love Governor Wike whose outstanding achievements in salvaging the state from the dearth of basic infrastructural development required for speedy socioeconomic transformation has received national and international applause.
“Therefore, no amount of negative propaganda by the failed APC can diminish the legacy of Governor Wike in Rivers State.
“Rather than launder the thoroughly battered image of the APC, such media appearances by Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his cohorts will further expose APC’s penchant for lies and deception which is now a public knowledge.
“The former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has confirmed that Governor Wike is the best Rivers State has produced.
“’I have been there. And I make bold to say Governor Nyesom Wike, you are the best,’ Dr. Odili said.
“Odili’s comment serves as an answer to those masquerading as informed commentators with puerile and suffocating commentaries”, the statement added.
Bandits In Trouble As Super Tucano Aircraft Arrives
The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft has arrived in Kano, yesterday, at about 12.34 pm.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed the arrival of the fighter aircraft in a statement.
“On hand to receive the aircraft were the Hon. Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao”, he said.
We’ve No Patience With Failure, Oyedepo Lashes Out At Sacked Pastors
The General Overseer and Founder of The Living Faith Church International also known as Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has reacted to the recent sack of over 40 pastors by the church.
One of the affected Pastors, Peter Godwin, took to social media, claiming they were sacked for not generating enough income.
Godwin, who was in one of the church’s branches in Ekiti State, had claimed, “I was told by the management that the church doesn’t operate at a loss.
“They also told me that the total income that is being generated from my station should be able to cater for my welfare and accommodation, so as a result of low income, I’m hereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the allegation in a video posted on the social media, Oyedepo said the sack of the pastors was not about money, adding that the latter were sacked as a result of their failure and the church “has no patience with failure.
“Money? Nonsense! We have never lacked it, and yet, we have never prayed for it.
“We are just simply obeying God, and He is backing up what He is asking us to do. Awesome God,” he noted.
On those criticising the sack, the GO said, “People are confused about our ministry. I learnt some fellows said, you know, they are not bringing income, that is why they asked them to go”.
He added, “We asked you to go because you are unfruitful. Unfruitful! Blatant failure. Doing what there? We have no patience with failure here.
“When we employed 7,000 people at a time, social media was dead.
“We have more employees in this organisation than most of the states. No one is owed a dime salary and we don’t borrow, we don’t beg. Ask our bank whether we take overdraft.
“We are covenant bound, working in the light of God’s word, enjoying an open Heaven.”
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