Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue, had on Monday said that the state had received N3bn bailout from the Federal Government, adding that N6bn was needed to clear the backlog of workers’ salary arrears.
But the Special Adviser to the Governor on Economic Affairs, Mr. Obinna Oriaku, at a press briefing on Thursday, said there was no truth in the earlier information.
He explained that what the state received was N3.2bn which was its share of the $1.7bn Liquefied Natural Gas tax shared among the three tiers of government.
Oriaku said that N1.2bn out of the fund was the share of the 17 local government areas in the state while the balance of N2bn was the state government’s share.
He explained that the fund was meant for the payment of salaries, maintaining that the much-talked-about federal bailout has not been received.
Oriaku, who urged members of the public to disregard the earlier “misinformation” regarding the bailout, however said the state government was working with the Debt Management Office and the Central Bank of Nigeria on how to get a bailout.
The Special Adviser, who also cleared the air on the controversy trailing the N30bn loan request approved by the state’s House of Assembly, said it was not “a fresh borrowing”.
He explained that the money was the accumulation of all the debts owed by Abia Government, including salary arrears, pensions, debt owed contractors and other debts owed by agencies of government.
Oriaku said that one of the conditions given by the Federal Government to take over debts owed by state governments as bonds was that the state’s House of Assembly must give a legal back-up to the option, hence the approval granted to the governor’s request by the lawmakers.
He said that the Central Bank of Nigeria would be the guarantor of the N30bn bailout and would be deducting same from source, with re- payment spread over 20 years.
He said, “It means that the Federal Government will acquire the debts as bonds and the condition of payment is easier. Many states are heavily geared, including Lagos which owes about N400bn.”
Asked if the House did not well understand the governor’s letter on the loan request to have said that it was approved to enable the government execute the dredging of Aba River and other infrastructure, Oriaku said the lawmakers had started to clear the misinterpretation.