Niger Governor talks tough, probes N4.4 billion bailout funds to local govts

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has inaugurated a seven-member administrative panel of enquiry to ascertain the utilisation of the N4.4 billion bail out to 12 local government councils for payment of salary arrears to workers.

The panel headed by a retired permanent secretary in the state civil service, Daniel Tarachi, is to unravel why the affected local government councils failed to pay staff salaries despite the bail out by the state government.

Mr. Bello said the setting up of the panel became necessary following high level financial recklessness and impunity at the grassroot level and the need to curtail the development from further causing more havoc.

He frowned at what he called “irresponsible behaviour of some of the local government chief executives” for refusing to pay their staff even when the state government has released funds to assist them.

He observed that some of the affected local government councils have started paying when they heard of government’s move to look into the immediate and remote cause of their failure to pay.

“I find it necessary to set up this panel to know what really happened, what went wrong, how the fund given was disbursed and what it was used for. I cannot understand why primary school teachers and local government staff will be owed 3, 4 or 5 months’ salary after the councils have been given money to pay.

“We used the proceeds from the Paris Club recovery to bail out the affected councils but some Chairmen diverted and used the money for some flimsy things like, claiming to have used it for security matters, some even borrowed the money.

“This is not acceptable. We are going to get to the root of the matter and any chairman found wanting will face the law,” the governor warned.

He then charged the panel to be thorough in carrying out the assignment, stressing that no stone should be left unturned in the course of carrying out the assignment.

“I demand for a thorough job. A clear picture of what happened without sparing anyone. Let me know if you have any problem or you are not getting the needed cooperation, even if the Ministry of Local Government is not because there are arguments by some LGAs that they have not receive their fund and the ministry says it has released. The panel must work hard to unearth the truth”.

The panel has one month to complete their assignment.

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