Economic crunch: We “ll all make sacrifices to pay salaries – Niger Gov TrendyVoice

2 June 2016

Economic crunch: We “ll all make sacrifices to pay salaries – Niger Gov




By Levinus Nwabughiogu


ABUJA-To wriggle out of the present economic
meltdown and meet up with the demands of his
states including the payment of workers salaries,
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello has said
that there was need to cut down on public
expenditures.
According to him, cutting cost was one sacrifice
necessary to save the state from indebtedness.
Lamenting that he could not continue to borrow
money to pay salaries, the governor said that
already, the state had been hit with N3 billion
debt, saying it would be N10 billion should it
continue to borrow.
Governor Bello who spoke to State House
Correspondents after a private meeting with
President Mohammadu Buhari at the presidential
villa, Abuja on Wednesday however refuted
claims that the state had pruned down salaries of
workers.
He said: "No no no! We have not resolved to pay
half salaries but what we are saying is that from
January this year we have been borrowing from
bank to augment whatever we have been getting
from FAAC. As at this month, we are owing
almost N3 billion. If we continue like this, by
December, we will be owing N10 billion. So I think
we should go back to the table. Of course, we
can't give what we don't have but we are facing
difficult times now let's sit down and see what we
can do.
"I really think it is unhealthy to keep on
borrowing just to pay salaries. Apart from that,
we are not just there to pay salaries. There are a
lot of issues. I got call this morning from one Girls
Secondary School; that their roof is off in six out
of seven dormitories. Where will they sleep? Now,
if I take the whole revenues and pay salaries, how
am I going to fix schools, hospitals?
"Niger State has a population of over four million,
civil service strength of about 40,000. We get
N1.5 billion from federation account and even
with that, we still have to borrow to pay 40,000
people against over 3 million people that we need
to cater for. So I strongly believe and honestly we
should look at it. It is nobody's fault that the price
of oil has gone down. It is nobody's fault that the
revenue has gone down. We are facing difficult
times but hopefully things will improve.


"But we should all make sacrifices. I'm willing to
make sacrifices, all my appointees are willing to
make sacrifices. We have shown example by
cutting down our expenditure. We have cut down
the operation of the expenses of the government
house from N150 million a week to N20, 25
million a week. So, we have cut down
government house expenditure by over 70
percent and I mean these are all sacrifices.
"We have saved some money. We are doing a bit
of projects including the federal roads, the
Suleja-Minna Road is motorable now and very
soon we will start working on Bida. I was asked at
a function yesterday where I got money from. But
the truth is we just have to improvise. We have to
save to move in.

"I read somewhere we are going to reduce
salaries but is not true but we engaged labour
and we are still talking to them. We have laid the
cards on the table. We are not hiding anything.
We are very transparent as much as we can but
the truth of the matter is that I cannot give what
we don't have. I wish I had, personally if I had, I
would have paid from my pocket but I can't", he
said.
Asked whether he would probe the financial
spendings of his predecessor, Babangida Aliyu,
governor Bello said "There is an ongoing
investigation. We have recovered some pension
funds that were misappropriated though not
much. Investigation is still on. I believe the team
has met with the former governor. I don't want to
interfer with their investigations."
Speaking on the religious uprising in Rafi local
government area of the state on Sunday which
resulted to imposition of curfew after claiming
one life, the governor who bemoaned the
situation set to an investigative panel had been
constituted to get the details of what transpired.
"The situation was unfortunate in Pandogari. I
think someone posted some blasphemous stories
about the Prophet and of course, you know, the
sensitive nature when it comes to religion and
one person was killed later on.
"We heard that either police or the army shot a
civilian and three or four people lost their lives.
We have instituted an investigative panel to
investigate what happened so that we can
address the situation.

"The deputy governor and my team are there at
the moment. The situation is calm now. We will
await the outcome of the investigative panel so
that we mitigate against this happening next
time. This is is unacceptable and whoever is
involved will be severely punished", he said.




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