A fresh dimension is opening in the controversy surrounding the bail out money the Federal Government has provided as palliative measures to pay salaries of civil servants in their respective states.
Following unclear pictures painted in Imo State about the bailout fund, which are at variance to reports from other states and statements credited to the chairman of Nigerian Governor’s form, Abdulaziz Yari, there are strong indications that the fund the state government claimed has not reached its coffers, may be one of those held back by commercial banks over unpaid debts.
Against the backdrop of concerns raised by workers in Imo State, who have gone on strike action, on the whereabouts of the bailout fund provided to the states by FG, a statement credited to Governor Rochas Okorocha’s spokesman claimed that the stop gap assistance to pay workers salaries is yet to reach the state government.
The position of the Imo State Government is in contrast to that of neighbouring Abia State who has confirmed the receipt of the bailout as well as a recent interview report of Governor Yari who revealed that “banks seized state bail out funds over debts”
Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor through his media aide acknowledged how the neighbouring state has received about N3bn from FG for the bailout whereas Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo in a statement made available to the public through media channels denied that Imo State has not received any money.
However, the revelation of Governors’ Forum chairman, Yari when besieged by journalist at the State House, Abuja, after a meeting with the Vice-President, Prof Yomi Osibanjo has opened more frontiers to the controversy surrounding the controversial Imo state bail out fund. Yari said that the 2.1 billion naira dividend paid into the Federation Account by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), which the FG used to bail out debtor states, were seized by some banks over debts.
According to Yari who though did not mention the debtor states their monies were seized because they were lagging behind in their loans repayment “what I am saying, no money has been released yet, but I think the NLNG money that was given, some states, their shares were taken by the banks because of debts. So, automatically, that has to go there”.
Explaining further on the seized money which many states are said to be involved, Yari said “but I think the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), governor is negotiating with the banks on how we are going to share, now we have agreed that this bailout or intervention funds are coming so that they will know the purpose the palliative was made for the states to rescue them to pay staff salaries”
To confirm that some states have received their bailout fund, the Governor’s Forum chairman added “but for sure, some other governor reported that money went to their accounts, it was taken by some banks because of their outstanding loans”.
Yari’s recent interview has raised public concern in Imo as questions are abound if the statement credited to the governor’s media aide is not a sheer smokescreen to cover up from seizure of the state’s bailout money by banks the state is indebted to?