Workers Salaries Under Threat As FAAC Suspends Meeting Indefinitely 

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Joseph Bakare

Several state governments may not be able to pay salary of civil servants for June and July following the suspension of meetings indefinitely by the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).

The Chairman, Commissioners of Finance Forum, Mr Mahmood Yunusa on Thursday said FAAC has agreed to suspend meetings indefinitely until an effective revenue collection process is implemented.

Yunusa said this in Abuja after the monthly FAAC meeting ended in a stalemate for the third consecutive time in one month.

He said that the Committee has not been able to settle with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over oil revenue collections.

The chairman said that the Committee had already taken the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari, adding “but in the short term, FAAC meetings have been suspended until a more effective collection method is established’’.

“What we are looking for is for the process to be strengthened, once the process is strengthened there is no need for this fight.

“It is about the system and the process and we are working on it. It is no longer a joking matter, it has gone to the highest level.

“Mr President is highly interested in this and he is taking his time to ensure that the right thing is done.

“Once the process is strengthened, the correct amount is supposed to go to the federal revenue account.

“Even if it is small, we cannot challenge NNPC, so we are also helping NNPC from undue pressure,’’ he said

Yunusa said that the decision to hold NNPC accountable came with a price, meaning some states may not be able to pay salaries.

He, however, expressed the hope that once the process was completed, it would serve as a permanent solution to the reoccurring issue of under-remittance by NNPC.

It will be recalled that a meeting was convened on June 27 and July 10 respectively, to share the revenue generated in the month of May, which both ended in a stalemate.

Over the past couple of years, FAAC have had disagreements with NNPC over remittances into the Federation Account.

The latest development is coming less than a year after the NNPC completed the refund of N450 billion to the federation account.

The NNPC had for 67 consecutive months, paid an additional N6.33 billion into the federation account to be shared to federal, states and local governments.

The payment, which started in Sept. 2011, was due to an audit, which showed that the NNPC had been under remitting revenue into the Federation Account.

Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said his administration was able to pay the salaries of civil servants for June, 2018, without funds from Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC)  because of careful financial engineering.

This follows a similar move by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State  whose administration paid the salaries of workers for the month of June without receiving the federal allocation.

Gov. Ugwuanyi had said that despite he assumed office at the time the nation’s economy was in severe recession, his administration has been regular in payment of workers’ salaries, even when 27 states could not pay.

Gov. Ugwuanyi attributed the successes recorded by his administration, in spite of the nation’s economic challenges, to God’s grace and the state government’s commitment to the wellbeing of the people of the state.

Addressing journalists after projects inspection on Thursday, Wike said workers’ welfare remains a top priority of his administration.

He said: “Our business is to pay workers’ salaries, do projects and develop the state. We reasoned, do we fail to pay workers’ salaries because FAAC has not been released?

“We had to do some financial engineering to accommodate workers’ salaries, while  projects are still ongoing. We came to serve and there are no excuses,” he said.

The governor said his administration is about making Rivers people happy through projects and programmes which will enhance their well-being.

Wike inspected the ongoing construction of the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty that will serve Rivers riverine communities and their Bayelsa neighbours.

The governor expressed satisfaction with the quality and progress of work at the jetty.

He solicited the understanding of traders around the premises as they would be relocated to create space for the contractors to conclude the shore protection of the jetty.

“As you can see, the people are happy. They are celebrating this project. As usual, they have trooped out in their numbers to show appreciation,” he said.

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