By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Cross River state governor, Senator Ben Ayade met with the Heads of Local Government Administration HOLGAs, on Thursday last week before leaving for Abuja on Friday.
The HOLGAs are currently playing the roles of Chairmen as the governor has not conducted LG elections in four years.
Our source say the governor persuaded the HOLGAs to initiate memos asking the State government to continue paying the consolidated salaries for the State Universal Education Board SUBEB and the Cross River state Primary Health Care Development Agency CRSPHDA as loan, then the LGAs will repay the loans at 30 per cent interest rate from the LGA allocations which are now been paid directly to LG accounts.
The HOLGAs are said to be reluctant and scared and have requested the involvement of the Directors of Financial Services of the LGAs.
Consequently, a meeting has been fixed for Tuesday with the HOLGAs and DFSs of the 18 LGAs to ratify the decision to raise the memos asking the governor to continue paying salaries for the LGs on loan.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had directed that from June 1, 2019, Governors should desist from tampering with local government funds.
To this effect, the June allocation for local governments were not paid into the Joint Allocation Accounts (JAAC) which were operated by the Cross River State Government for over a decade.
The Governor called a meeting of the Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGAs) earlier in June 2019, asking them to allow the State pay previous local government staff who were moved to SUBEB and CRSPHCDA and the Local Government will pay back the loan at 30 percent interest rate.
The Governor is expected to meet with them again on Tuesday to compel them to do this despite the HOLGAs insisting that the move is against the directive of the NFIU.
The State Government also came up with an attempt to update the nominal rolls of local governments despite a staff verification exercise done by the Board and the Agency in 2017.
It is clear there is no way around the NFIU directives. But, the idea of paying staff with a loan that the government took without the local government’s opinion at 30 percent interest rate is just a ploy to amass more money in the future.
If the HOLGA’s accept, the State will not conduct local government elections. It will not release the nominal rolls of these staff to the local governments either and may inflate the figure just to ensure the local governments do not function.
If the HOLGAs refuse, the State will stretch the nominal rolls update further and not pay salaries too.
Also, the State may inflate the nominal rolls and add ghost workers as no successful recruitment exercise has been carried out after the last verification exercise excluding the 1000 staff employed by SUBEB.
There is the fear that after paying for over 24 months, the State may then conduct local government elections in order to recoup the funds as the Chairmen and elected Councillors may be coerced through party structures to agree to pay back the loan thereby, defeating the purpose of paying local governments allocations directly.
This is definitely a ploy to ensure the local governments remain non viable and lie prostrate before the State Governor. Accessing these funds through whatever guise will also be a win for the corrupt elite.
Even if Cross Riverians were to accept, 30 percent interest rate is too high and to whom will it be paid?
This report has been updated.
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