Paris Club refund and Kwara govt

By Haliru Dantsoho Mahmud

I have read lots of displeasing reports in respect of the Paris Club refund released to states to enable them settle the outstanding salary arrears of civil servants with particular reference to Kwara state. You will recall how Kwara state governor, Dr AbdulFatah Ahmed, squandered the earlier Paris Club and the bailout funds released by President Muhammadu Buhari to off set salary arrears of civil servants which resulted to massive protest by the state trade unions. However, out of the recent 5.1 billion naira Paris Club Refund released to Kwara State government, only 3 billion naira was released to off set salary arrears after massive protest by some APC Youth who embarrassed the governor by calling him a “thief” at the APC stakeholders meeting where he initially announced the approval of 2 billion naira for the payment of salary and arrears. The governor, who angrily and disgracefully left the venue at the middle of the occasion, consequently approved an additional 1 billion naira, bringing the total to 3 billion naira. Th is development was applauded by the trade union who felt a little relieved by the addition.

Nonetheless, I had worked in the civil service as a primary school teacher in the Kaiama Local Government Education Authority in 1995 and later joined the federal civil service where I voluntarily resigned my appointment to join active politics in 2006. When I was in the service, our salaries and allowances were our rights and entitlements and were paid as at when due. In fact, government shows remorse and apologises to workers in the event there is a day delay in the payment of our salaries and allowances. But today, the reverse is the case. Salaries are received by civil servants in form of gifts and favour from the state government.

In the same vein, it’s more disturbing and nauseating when I watch some governors on the television referring to payment of salaries as one of their achievements in offi ce after indiscriminate deductions and incessant screening and verifi cation exercises. In most cases, they end up paying HALF SALARY. As a matter of fact, throughout my years in the service, I have never heard the term “HALF SALARY”. As it is today, one doesn’t need to go to school before learning certain grammars in Nigeria. It’s either Half salary or salary backlog, budget fraud or budget padding, economic recession or economic meltdown, diversifi cation of the economy or restructuring; Fulani herdsmen or cattle rustling; grass cutting or diversion of IDPs intervention fund; plea bargain or whistle blowing; to mention just few. Moreover, what puzzles my mind about the whole scenario is, as much as the Buhari led federal government tries to fi ght corruption and bring succour to Nigerians, some governors and APC members are doing everything possible to bring the federal government to its knees. Otherwise why should any governor touch a kobo from the Paris Club Funds under any guise when they know that the whole of the funds allocated to each state is not suffi cient to off set the salaries backlogs?

Hence, I start to wonder if this people are truly APC members that wish the federal government success. Besides, all these while that civil servants were being owed several months salary and subjected to untold hardship, hunger and abject poverty, the governors were receiving their salaries and security votes as at when due and fl ying chattered fl ights all over the world out of the limited resources and at the expense of the suff ering masses. What pleasure do these characters derive from infl icting more pains on the already suffering poor civil servants who have invested their precious time in discharging their duties to their fatherland?

Or when has it become a crime to be a civil servant? Haba! This is the height of government’s insensitivity to the plight of the masses whose mandate they are enjoying today and the unchecked display of irresponsibility, abuse of public offi ce and institutionalisation of corruption.

Th is culture of oppression, impunity and executive rascality has to be resisted in all its ramifi cations by all and sundry in order to build a decent society that will usher progress and development into Nigeria. In the light of the above, I call on all well meaning agents of positive change to rise against this scourge, irrespective of our professions, either in the public or private sector, student, applicant or artisan. We are all aff ected, directly or in directly, unless and until we all rise against this pestilence, Nigeria will one day become history. “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable”. Th e era of business as usual is over. So help us God. Prince Mahmud is Dan’Iyan Kaiama; 08033162684

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