By Yemi Adebowale
The Kogi State Commissioner for Finance, Alfa Zakari, has described as a disinformation, rumours milling around the working class purporting that the government of Kogi State was in procession of the Workers Salaries Assistance Bail out Loan approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Commissioner, in a statement issued in Lokoja on Friday, sympathized with workers, especially local government workers while also commending them for their patience on the issue of salaries. It noted that workers in Kogi State have shown understanding for a long time and urged them not to lose their patience yet, especially now that solutions are around the corner.
Against the backdrop of recent protests by workers in Kogi Local Government alleging government’s failure to pay their outstanding salaries despite the fact that the administration of Captain Idris Wada was in possession of the bailout money, the Commissioner said the allegation was based on mere assumptions, as Kogi and three other states were yet to access the loans.
It warned against politicizing the issue and cautioned against instantaneous protests as they could be hijacked by fifth columnists to destabilize the peaceful nature of the state.
The statement read in part, “As at Thursday, September 17, 2015, what the CBN Governor said was that 18 states have accessed the money. Four other states are being processed. And these states are Oyo, Delta, Kogi and Benue. So, as it is now, we have not been paid. The Honourable Commissioner for Finance and the State Deputy Governor are in Abuja permanently, more or less. They are in Abuja for the monthly NEC meeting for the Federal Allocations Committee meeting but simultaneously, they are linking up with the CBN to facilitate the release of the Workers Salaries Assistance Bailout Loan. The government appreciates the patience of the workers but reassures that on receipt of the money, no delay whatsoever will occur in making sure that all the outstandings are paid according to the loan accessed from the CBN.
“The whole process will be transparent; notices will be published, Kogi people will see clearly what is being paid and to whom, across the entire state.
“We sympathize with the protesting workers because workers in Kogi State have been very, very understanding on the salary issues. However, on this account, they have been misinformed that the bail out fund has been released. It has not. We appeal to them to be patient. They have been patient for a long time. The solution is just around the corner now. We will still appeal to them that they should not allow themselves to be used as political tools in causing upheaval and destabilizing the peaceful nature of the state. It will be most unfortunate if fifth columnists capitalized on such protests to wreak havoc in the state.
“Once again, the protests may be as a result of the disinformation that the state has accessed the funds. No, we are still in the process of doing so. The moment it is paid, the civil servants, indeed all the workers across the state will feel the impact immediately,” the Commissioner disclosed.