By Ikenna Uwadileke
A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Olowookere Ajisafe on Wednesday in Abuja held brief for state governors who used part of their bailout funds for other projects outside payment of outstanding salaries and pensions.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, Ajisafe said that the need for increased commitment to infrastructure necessitated governors demand for more bailout.
The bailout fund was given to states especially those who were owing several months of salaries and pensions to the workers and retirees.
However, some of the states rather than pay the emoluments, used a great part of the fund for other projects while still owing several months salaries.
The lawmaker who represents Akure North/South Federal Constituency of Ondo while defending the governors, expressed concern over the bad state of infrastructure in the country.
“This may not go down well with the civil servants but the concern of some of these governors is that certain money is given as bailout but some of them are conscious of the percentage of civil servants in their states.
“If every money received is spent on paying salary and issues as important as roads and other infrastructure are not attended to then what will be their legacy.
“I think that is why some of them are diverting the bailout funds to attend to infrastructure which the generality of citizens of the states will enjoy,’’ he said.
The lawmaker said that deplorable road condition aided kidnapping in the country.
“Over six months I have not been bold to go home with my vehicle.
“It makes it easier for them to operate because of the bad road.
“There are certain portions that you must have to slow down to cross, and that is where the kidnappers are hiding and that affects civil servants, non-civil servants, farmers, artisans and others.
“Much as I sympathise with the workers that are not being paid, the fault is not that of some governors but as a result of the dwindling oil fortunes both in price and quantity,’’ Ajisafe said.
According to a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) report, many of the 23 states that received bailout funds diverted same into payment of contractors and other projects.
The commission particularly indicted Zamfara state which was said not to have been indebted to its workers yet applied and got the N10bn which the governor diverted.
The ICPC report issued in April and signed by Mustapha Hussain, indicted many states including Bauchi, Benue, Imo, Cross River, Katsina, Ekiti, Zamfara, Gombe, Osun, Kwara, among others.
Recall that before the funds were approved and released, the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who heads the National Economic Council, had explained that the loan is repayable at an interest rate of nine per cent over a 20-year period and it is “solely for the purpose of paying the backlog of salaries.”
However the ICPC report showed that many states had flouted the purpose for which the funds were released leaving their workers with backlog of unpaid salaries.