By Our Reporter
The spokesman for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit NFIU, Mr Sani Tukur, confirmed on Thursday that the NFIU directive to financial institutions to dishonor cheques emanating from State governors on behalf of local government councils from 1st June 2019, had recorded 100 per cent compliance; but the Cross River state governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that the move will rather cripple the councils as they are not financially viable to survive on their own.
While reacting to the directive during a valedictory session with his dissolved cabinet recently, Ayade said: “I hear you people are talking about local government autonomy. How much has the local government earned and how much has the state given.
“The direct financial support to pay local governments, we put N11.9billion. In addition, the liability of the local governments to the state today stands at N42billion. If the local governments are left on their own, wholly, one wonders what will happen.
“I don’t know why they (advocates of council autonomy) think every state is the same. In some states, if you allow the autonomy of the local governments, in three months, the level of kidnapping and crime rates would destroy this country. So, don’t make statements without proper research.
“Take Cross River State, in the first 17 months of our administration, there was no month we didn’t put in N300million or N400million for local governments to be able to pay salaries. There are some months we put N1.2billion to enable them pay salaries and we have never done deductions from them, even when our law provides for 27 per cent, plus the recent four per cent we did on infrastructure, which brings it to 31 per cent. We have held our calm.
“So, when people come talk about autonomy, it is the function of the income of the state. If you ask for the House autonomy, you have the autonomy, but let us see how the House will pay its salaries on the basis of autonomy, when indeed what has come is less than salaries, plus general overheads.”
He added: “Autonomy works where the income is sufficient for everyone to get his/her quota. But when what is coming is less than operating cost, it needs a bit of creativity.”
It will be recalled that recently, the governor threatened to arrest and prosecute the state chairman of an opposition party in the state, the African Action Congress AAC for alleging that the governor withdrew four billion Naira from the state and local government joint account shortly before the last general elections for “quick wins” projects in the LGAs.
While the governor did not deny withdrawing the sum, he quickly dispatched his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu to go round the LGAs and commission the “quick win” projects which the 4billion was allegedly spent on.
The inspection exercise turned out to be a national jest on social media after pictures emerged of the state deputy governor commissioning traffic lights, boreholes and non functional diesel powered generators bought to provide electricity for communities.
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