APC warns against tampering with Local Government funds

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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The All Progressives Congress, APC, has warned heads of Local Government Administrations, HOLGA, against tampering with funds for the running of councils.

Sir John Ochala, the Chairman of APC Cross River State, gave the warning sequel to complaints by some civil servants over the non-payment of June 2019 salaries by Governor Ben Ayade.

Ochala, who was speaking with journalists in Calabar, the capital city of the southern Nigerian State, lamented “these civil servants were paid April and May 2019 salaries on May Day, which was the first day in the Month of May. Since then till now most of the workers have not been paid”.

Presidential Directive
On the meeting held between Governor Ben Ayade and HOLGA recently seemingly to access the funds to pay workers, the APC chieftain remarked, “Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made it very clear that any local government area chairman, who connives with any governor to defraud the State will face the wrath of the law”.

While urging Governor Ayade to conduct local government elections, Ochala averred “their expenditures are limited to basic administrative necessities not on projects or infrastructural development. Thus, it is incumbent on all critical stakeholders to call on the Governor to do the needful by providing enabling environment for the conduct of local government elections in the state. It is long overdue.” 

Resist Temptation
Similarly, the African Action Congress, AAC, has advised Governor Ayade to resist the temptation of tampering with local government funds.

Agba Jalingo, the State Chairman of the party, contended “we are aware that following the implementation of the directives of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, the allocations for local governments have been paid into the accounts of the councils”.

“We are also aware that in a bid to access these funds, Governor Ayade is meeting the Heads of Local Government Administration in order to attempt the regularization of their signatures in order to collect these monies”, noted Jalingo.

According to him, “the Governor cannot account for what he did with these funds between May 29, 2015 till June 1, 2019. HOLGA must resist any attempt to circumvent or go against the directive of the Nigerian Government “.

He argued “If the Governor cannot pay salaries without local government funds, let him conduct the elections. This impunity must stop. We in the AAC are watching with keen interest and we enjoin the people to prevent the Governor from buffeting on our commonwealth”. 

Background
For the past two months, civil servants in Cross River have been expectant of their June 2019 salary, which was paid to a few workers on the first of July, while many others in State Ministries such as Justice, Education, Local Government and Parastatals were yet to be paid.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, placed a ban on the State and Local Governments joint accounts with the directive for the funds to go straight to the local governments.

Nnenna.O