The Federal Government on Wednesday rejected the claims by some governors that it was responsible for their inability to pay their workers’ salaries.
It said the governors of such states should instead take the blame for the development in their states because they were told through the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, to make the issue of wages a priority.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said this in a statement by her Special Adviser on Communications, Paul Nwabuikwu.
The minister’s clarification came on the heels of All Progressives Congress governors meeting with President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja, where they expressed frustrations about their inability to pay workers’ salaries.
Speaking through the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, they governors said, “One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in a bad shape.
“We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him. As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the Federal Government has not paid April salaries and that is very worrisome, by May and June, that (salaries) will be in cumulative of three months”.
But Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that in spite of the 50 per cent drop in gross federally collectible revenue, the Federal Government had made the issue of workers’ salaries a top priority in order to ensure that the “people do not feel the negative impact of the revenue drop on the economy”.
The minister, for instance, said that contrary to the “misinformation being put forward by certain governors to the effect that federal workers are being owed, staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date”.
She said in the five paragraph statement that the states, being one of the three tiers of government that receive monthly allocations from the Federation Account, should be blamed for their predicament, not the Federal Government.
The statement read, “This is to clarify the misinformation put forward by certain governors to the effect that Federal workers are being owed salaries.
“This is incorrect. Staff salaries at the Federal level are up-to-date; workers have received their April salaries.
“Regarding difficulties in salary payments, certain governors are trying to blame the Federal Government for their predicament. This is wrong. They had been told through the FAAC to prioritise salaries but they chose not to do so, hence the backlog that some states are experiencing.
“The 50 per cent drop in revenues simply means that salaries should be prioritised. The Federal Government should not be blamed for avoidable mistakes made at the state level”.