Paris Loan refund: EFCC should step in


Visibly disturbed by persistent non-payment of workers’ salaries nationwide, the Federal Government sometimes ago approached the Paris Club for loan to offset workers’ salaries mainly and for other sundry problems the Federal Government is facing as regards workers’ predicament.

Expectedly, the loan was granted and given to state governments as bail-out. Up till now, the governors have not fulfilled their part of the agreement concerning the loan refund. Equally pathetic is the non-chalant attitude of the governors to pay back the loan while some of them actually misappropriated the loan on something else.

 Yet worrisome is the governors’ posture on not ready to repay the loan. Newspapers are awash with stories that they were not eager to repay the loan. This to us is a height of irresponsibility on their part having treated with levity the issue of workers’ salary while they get theirs regularly and when due.

This is pure inhumanity to man and blatant disrespect to the Federal Government. It had often been said at many fora that the state governors are more powerful than the Federal Government. This is a case in point. Could it be that the state governors are happy not paying workers’ salary knowing full well they get allocations from the Federal Government monthly plus the so-called security vote.

Now that the Federal Government is playing the Father Christmas role, not wanting the nation’s workers to continue suffering endlessly, had graciously granted the state governments loan which it itself borrowed to offset workers’ salaries; the money had been diverted to other unknown purposes only God knows.

It will not be out of place to label the governors’ attitude and action on this bail-out as criminal to all intents and purposes and should be treated as such. This is a height of irresponsibility and criminality par excellence. With the huge amount of money accruing to the governors, they have chosen to brazenly deny their workers and retirees what is due to them — this is heartless. The Federal Government could decide not to bail out the governments, but it reasoned workers would be worse-off. The multiplier effects are better imagined than experienced in terms of strike and civil disobedience.

Do the state governments think the loan is a Federal largesse? They don’t realize that there is interest to be paid on the loan? They should give answers to these questions from the comfort of their rooms and offices. This is a case of monkey works, baboon eats.

It was reported that the governors held meetings on how not to repay the loan. This is nothing but perfidy at its best.

The Federal Government should be on their neck to make sure they cough out this loan. Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami and other stakeholders should demand how this loan is expended by the governors by looking critically into their books.

Relevantly, the Federal Government should let loose the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on these culprit governors, seriously grill them to submission until they do the needful. Ditto for government officials no matter how highly placed.

It is pertinent to say that the Federal Government has enough problems to tackle — unemployment, economic recession and others, so the governors should not be working at cross-purposes with the government at the centre which is what they are currently doing.

They should be dealt with drastically vis-à-vis this case of loan repayment. The Holy Scripture says workers deserve their dues. They have suffered more than enough. The governors should put off the toga of mindlessness, pay the workers and pensioners what is due to them. There should be no master-slave relationship in their respective states. They are in office to take care of them and not impoverish them, not inflict hunger on the citizenry. Enough is enough. We say the governors should repay the loan soonest, there is no question of we don’t have money to pay. Far from that this time, even if it means forfeiting their salaries and emoluments. They should reciprocate the Federal Government’s gesture. That is what is expected of them; it must be done.

Newspapers were last Friday awash with threat to the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu by the indigent governors to dare probe the Paris Club loan granted to them at a meeting held by them. One wonders whether these governors are real Nigerians who revel at workers’ misfortune by not willing to settle their workers’ salary.

We hereby appeal to Mr. Ibrahim Magu to be more emboldened in his fierce battle against corruption. He should not cower down to the governors’ criminal exploits. The real fact behind their postures is that they do not want to refund that loan. No wonder their insistence on not confirming Magu’s substantive chairman so that they can continue with their shameless sojourn in mindless financial perfidy.

Magu should not give in to their latest antics of looting the treasury at will. He should please step on toes of those who decide to expose theirs in public.

Most of the governors fiddle with their local governments’ Federal Allocations monthly, now they don’t want to pay back the loan granted them for payment of workers’ salary and pensions. They are no more to be addressed their excellencies.

Magu should go on tirelessly in his renewed fight against corruption as it affects these governors who are committing some financial shenanigans with their exalted office. For the avoidance of doubt, it is glaring that governance at the state level is now at a low ebb by the action of these governors who feast on citizens’ wealth at the slightest opportunity. The Federal Government should use what is left in its arsenal to make the governors cough out what they have swallowed to stem such recurrence in the future. Enough is enough of this brazen nonchalant attitude on the part of these governors as it concerns disbursement of funds from the Federal Government.