President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a comprehensive relief package of N400billion in demonstration of his resolve to put an end to the lingering crisis of unpaid workers’ salaries in the country especially in several states of the federation.
According to informed sources at the presidency, Buhari has okayed a three-pronged relief package that will end the workers plight.
These are: *The sharing of about $2.1b (N413.7bn) in fresh allocation between the states and the federal government. The money is sourced from recent LNG proceeds to the federation account, and its release okayed by the president.
*A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, ranging from between N250billion to N300billion. This would be a soft loan available to states to access for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries.
*A debt relief program proposed by the Debt Management Office, DMO, which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660billion, and extend the life span of such loans while reducing their debt-servicing expenditures.
According to a source at the Presidency, the package, which was considered during last week’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting is designed specifically for workers, saying that Buhari has now reviewed and approved the package in his bid to intervene and alleviate the sufferings of some workers who are being owed over 10 months salaries.
When contacted over the matter, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed the development, saying a special package was on the way for the workers. He added that Buhari is deeply concerned about the plight of the workers who have been unpaid for many months.
In his speech while inaugurating the NEC last week, Buhari asked the Council, which is a constitutional advisory body to him, to, as a matter of priority, consider how to liquidate the unpaid salaries of workers across the country, a situation he observed has brought untold hardship to the workers.
The packages that have now been approved by President Buhari is expected to go into effect this week as the President is said to have directed that release of the funds should be made as soon as possible to assuage the plight of thousands of Nigerian workers in the federal and state governments.
At the NEC meeting, the relief measures were extensively discussed between the state governors and top officials of the federal government including the CBN governor, and the Permanent Secretaries from Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources. Other agencies that were actively involved in the process include the DMO and officials from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.