GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said the Federal Government would have been struggling to pay salaries of civil servants if it were not consistently assisted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to raise funds from the bond market.
Oshiomhole, who was hosted by Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, accused the former Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of playing with figures and being economical with the truth on the state of the economy inherited by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former minister had earlier denied some governors’ allegation that the finance ministry under her watch frittered $2.1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) without authorisation, describing it as ‘curious’.
The governor, in reaction to questions bordering on the matter and some states’ inability to pay their workers, described the Federal Government as being broke, saying it would have been in a worse shape than that of the states if it had not resorted to borrowing to pay wages, adding that the economy under Okonjo-Iweala was so mismanaged that waivers were granted to various organisations running into several hundreds of millions of naira.
He said: “With all due respect to the former Minister Okonjo-Iweala, she knows how to play around with statistics.
I have made the point (that) she keeps opening part of the pages and not the entire book.
The logic of transparency is that every minister must publish in full what is accruing to the Federation Account month to month and what is distributed to them.
What she has been publishing is that this is what went to the Federal Government, this is what went to the state government and this is what goes to the local council.
“What she never published simultaneously is what accrued during the period out of which this was distributed.
So, we can now know what was collected to what was distributed so we can know what is left in the Excess Crude Account.
You can see her changing the goal-post.
On states, which owe salary arrears to their workers, Oshiomhole said: “Every employer of labour has an obligation, a contractual obligation to pay those who work.
The Bible says a labourer is entitled to his wages.
Once you have laboured, it has to be paid for and you don’t pay wages because you are rich and you are able to afford it, you pay wages because the people have worked for it. It is not a gift from a kind-hearted employer; it is an obligation; it is a consequence for work.
Speaking on the strike embarked on by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in the state, the governor said: “This is what I call power struggle.
I had a meeting with JUSUN executives along with members of the NBA and they said that we are up-to-date with the payment of salaries and allowances and that they are on strike because the national body asked them to go on strike that the judiciary should enjoy what they call “First-Line Charge.
“If you ask the Chief Judge of Edo State, he will tell you that Edo State has never defaulted and we will not default and today as we speak, if they work, they will get their pay.
What I have refused to do is to pay them for the number of months that they have been on strike.