N800 MILLION: Okowa Is Deceptive, Delta APC Tells Deltans

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Leadership of the Delta State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday described Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as nothing but a “Deceptive” fellow who take undue glory for things done by the APC led federal government. The is coming against the back drop of the recent N800 million released by governor Okowa to offset salaries of local government council workers in the state.

Reacting to the N800 million released by Okowa to councils, Delta state chairman of APC, Jones Ode Erue, told a press conference in Ughelli that the credit should go to President Buhari for the recent N28 billion loan package offered to the 36 states of the federation to pay local government workers’ salaries, adding that the succour such payment would bring to these families of council workers who had suffered extreme neglect.

“The truth remains that it is President Buhari’ decision to make 2017 Christmas season better for workers by approval of N28bn to pay salaries that has now brought a smile on the faces of many Civil Servants. This was what prompted Governor Okowa to release N800m which is the exact loan that was advanced by President Buhari to Delta State. Therefore the credit for this relief should rightly goes to the APC federal government.

“We are all witnesses to recent protests by retirees in Delta State to the state’s House of Assembly and Government House to pour out their grievances under the umbrella of the Association of Retired Local Government Staff and Primary School Teachers where they criticized Gov. Okowa of insensitivity and non-payment of entitlements owed them since 2013, and on the misuse of President Buhari’s bailout funds and the Paris Club refunds received by the State”, Erue stated.

According to Mr. Erue, governor Okowa who in a bid to show he cares about the plights of the council workers hurriedly released the N800 million but the people are fully aware that what the governor did was because of the forthcoming local government elections in the state.

“President Buhari has from 2015 till date released over N2 trillion to the states as a direct response of his desire to ease the pressure on the finances of states and their inability to meet up with payment of workers salaries and pension commitments. This includes a salary relief package of N338bn in 2015, N575bn in form of a restructuring programme bond that helped to restructure the high-interest bank loans that was weighing down state governments into a 20-year Federal Government bond just to release more funds into their coffers.

Another sum of N200bn was shared from NLNG dividends, Solid minerals savings and Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) while a further N90billion loan was authorised for states.
We can’t forget the famous N522.74bn first tranche of Paris Club refund in December 2016, followed by a second tranche of N243.8bn released in July 2017 with a special request that a large chunk of the money should be used to fund workers unpaid salaries and pensions.

“Delta State share of these releases were very substantial but Governor Okowa did not hearken to the pain and cries of the workers. Rather, in the usual crafty manner, he kept advancing a vain and heartless argument that the State Government was not responsible for Local Government staff salaries, retired LGA workers and primary school teachers.

“If we go by his own argument, then he ought to have refused to accept the bail-out funds released to the State by the federal government, on the basis that the federal government is also not responsible for the salaries and pensions of Delta State civil servants? If he felt a tinge of pain for the workers he would have made adequate provision to  clear most, if not all the backlog of Council salaries and pensions.

“If Okowa feels the pain of workers, we advise him to borrow a leaf from President Buhari’s honest commitment to workers. We salute the President’s plan to takeover the payment of pensions to thousands of Delta Steel Company (DSC) and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) retirees that has been suspended for more than 10 years”, Erue said.

While thanking President Buhari for directing that pensions of retired Biafra police officers that were granted presidential pardon since year 2000 be paid, Erue, noted inspite of the huge of availability of funds, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), could not give such directives that would have boosted the welfare of these persons.

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