Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State may have defied President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to state governors to defray arrears of pensions and salaries from their share of the Paris Club loan refund.
The Federal Government is said to have returned the money to the state government some months ago for payment of arrears of salaries to civil servants and gratuities and pensions to pensioners.
But a Government House source confided in The AUTHORITY at the weekend that the governor has decided not to use the money for the purpose it was originally intended.
In fact, the source disclosed that Governor Udom has started spending the N14.5 billion, being the state’s share of the money, to pay some contractors and inducing members of the State House of Assembly for them to pass this year’s budget.
The governor is alleged to have refused to pay arrears of salaries to civil servants and gratuities and pensions to pensioners because of the huge amount involved which the source said is in the region of N14.5 billion.
The pensioners numbering more than 2,000 from the state civil service covering January 2014 to December 2016 are said to be owed N14.5 billion by the state government. A breakdown shows that gratuities stand at N11 billion, annuity pension- N2 billion and arrears of pensions- N1.5 billion.
The governor is said to have sent an official letter dated December 23, 2016, to the Speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly to capture the sum in 2017 Appropriation Bill, a day after the governor had presented 2017 budget to the house.
The letter was officially read by the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren on the floor of the House to members on January 5, 2017. Hon Udo Kyrien representing Oruk Anam moved for adoption of the motion while Hon Nse Ntuen representing Essien Udim State Constituency seconded the motion.