While many of Nigeria’s 36 states heaved some sigh of relief over the second tranche of Paris Club refund paid to them on 18 July, for Benue State the money was too little to rescue it from its financial quagmire.
The state in central Nigeria needs N7.8 billion to meets its monthly wage bill and it is vastly in arrears to meet the obligation. On Wednesday, it got just N6.4billion from the Federal Government.
Though the state said 90 per cent of the money received would be used to pay arrears of salaries, it is crystal clear that it will not solve its problem.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that state government workers are owed five months, while local government workers and teachers are owed nine months. Pensioners are owed more than 12 months
It was thus not surprising when Mr Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to the Benue governor, stated in Makurdi, the state capital, that what came to the state was “far below” what it was expecting.
“Actually, we expected N12 billion. But we shall try to use the N6.4 billion prudently,” he said.
Akase said that the inability to pay salaries promptly was not deliberate.
“We have not been able to pay salaries because of the paucity of funds.
“The federal allocation and the internally generated revenue, put together, cannot meet the monthly wage bill of N7.8 billion. It is indeed a bad situation, but we are trying to navigate it,” he said.