CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on States and Local Government, Sen Abdullahi Gumel, has urged state governors still owing workers’ salary to take advantage of recent Paris Club loan refund to pay.
Gumel made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He was reacting to concerns that in spite of release of the refund by the Federal Government to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), some states still owed workers arrears of salary.
The Federal Government, in July, released the second tranche of the Paris Club Refund amounting to N243.80 billion to states and the FCT.
Gumel said that while state governments may want to put the money into infrastructure development, payment of salaries and pensions of workers was paramount.
According to him, one of the major strengths of any economy is its workforce, and their welfare should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
“I urge state governors to use part of this money to pay workers and pensioners, particularly local government staff.
“State governments are lucky that this is happening in their time and they should take advantage of it to ensure that the workforce is better for it,” he said.
Gumel said that though there were many issues in the states which no amount of money would be enough to address once, priority was to attend to the payment of salaries, wages and pensions.
“I think it should be one of the areas the states should correct.”
On local government autonomy, the lawmaker said that he was elated that it scaled through during the Constitution amendment vote in both chambers of the National Assembly.
He said that local government, as an arm of government, ought to be autonomous to deliver the benefits of democracy to the people, particularly at the grassroots.
“Now that the National Assembly has approved its autonomy, we will send it to the states for concurrence to get two-third of the state houses of assembly,’’ he said.
The chairman said that it was time local governments were given the opportunity to participate actively in governance for the benefit of Nigerians.