By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — Worried by the plight of workers whose salaries have not been paid in various states, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked state governments to offset the unpaid salaries from debt service refunds made to them.
To this end, the President has approved N552.74 billion for 33 states, with the money expected to reach the states before the end of the week.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday, in Abuja, stated that release of the money followed claims of deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002 by state governments.
The President charged the governors to pay at least 25 percent of the refunds made to them.
The statement added that the President also charged the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to ensure that workers salaries and other entitlements should not continue to be a national embarrassment.
The statement read: “President Muhammadu Buhari has requested governors to pay at least 25 percent of the refunds made to them from excess deductions for external debt service, to be used to settle outstanding workers’ entitlements.
“The President approved N552.74 billion to be paid in batches to all the states that are owed, but they are expected to receive 25 per cent of their approved sums in the first instance before this week runs out. There are about 33 states in this bracket.
“The refunds arose following the claims by them that they had been overcharged in deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.
“In a directive through the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, President Buhari said that the issue of workers benefits, particularly salaries and pensions mustn’t be allowed to continue as a national problem and should be tackled with all the urgency that can be summoned.”