By Jonathan Ugbal
The Cross River State Government is yet to pay retirees and serving civil servants, pension, gratuities and salary arrears with the second tranche of the Paris Club refund, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria reveals.
The survey was carried out for the 22 states that applied for the refund of over deductions from their allocations for external debt services between 1995 and 2002 and indicated that some of the workers and pensioners were owed salaries and pensions for periods ranging between two and 11 months.
Seven states which formed about 31.9% of the 22 states that received the second tranche of about NGN243.79 paid by the federal government in July are yet to utilize it with Cross River state listed among these.
The federal government had advised the states to use between 50 and 75 percent of the refund to clear the arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities owed.
But, NAN reports that the Cross River Government was yet to settle the arrears of retirees’ gratuities in the state.
“One of them, Andem Antigha, said that since 2015 when he retired, he had not been paid his gratuity.
“This followed a dispute between it and a consulting firm over the payment of the Paris club refund.
“The court adjourned the case till September 7, for further deliberations,” NAN authoritatively reported.
CrossRiverWatch had reported that the state’s Finance Commissioner, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr had said the state is yet to pay a dime to any consultant and wondered why consultants were needed for dealings between the federal and state governments.
Earlier, the state Head of Service, Mr. Ekpenyong Henshaw had in a rare interview announced the state’s intention to apply the entire second tranche to pay pension arrears and gratuities up until 2015.
The state had received NGN6.075 billion in the second tranche in July and about NGN11 billion in the first tranche released in December 2016.
The federal government had shared NGN388.30 billion in the first tranche of payments and Cross River State had demanded for NGN85.3 billion as refunds.