Hundreds of workers in Benue State on Tuesday expressed shock over the alleged recall of the final tranche of the Paris Club refund earlier paid to the state government .
Two workers were alleged to have slumped as they received the news of the recall of the Paris Club refund .
Governor Samuel Ortom had last Thursday confirmed the receipt of N 14. 9 bn Paris Club refund .
Also on Monday , the governor directed the state ministry of finance to commence the payment of workers’ salary arrears and allowances to pensioners .
The state civil servants are owed seven months ’ salary arrears while local government workers are being owed 11 months ’ salaries .
But some of the workers , who reacted to the recall of the Paris Club refund on condition of anonymity , accused the Federal Government of deliberate attempt to kill workers in the state .
“ Since the governor directed the immediate payment of workers ’ arrears on Monday , we thought we would begin to receive alerts from this (Tuesday) evening only for us to hear the recall of the money .
“ I was told that two workers slumped immediately they heard about the recall of the Paris Club refund by the Federal Government but they were later revived . ”
Another worker , who spoke to our correspondent , said , “This is unfair .
Having raised our hope, this (Federal) Government has dashed our hope.
“I have promised those I owed that I would pay part of the debt on Wednesday ; I have also planned to use part of the money to buy books for my children and pay their school fees . ”
The Benue State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress , Godwin Anya , expressed shock over the development .
He said , “ I don’ t know the reason for the recall of the Paris Club loan refund .
Everybody has been expecting to be paid because the governor on Monday directed the payment of salary arrears .
“ I don’ t know the reason for that nonsense ; I don’ t know where this country is heading to . ”
Also reacting to the recall of the Paris Club refund , the Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua , described it as a “ trajectory of victimisation. ”
Agerzua said it was strange in accounting parlance to pay money into somebody’ s or government ’ s account and suddenly withdraw it , describing it as another form of impunity by the All Progressives Congress Federal Government .
“ This is not a gift. It is a legitimate right of the government . This is part of a series of moves aimed at subjugating the people . This action has shown clearly that the APC cannot protect the people , ” he said .
Tahav further observed that the issue had been politicised , stressing that it was an act of desperation as a result of the party ’ s failure in the Osun governorship election .
“ There is serious anger in the land as a result of recalling of the Paris Club refund by the Federal Government . The people now know who their enemies and oppressors are.
“ Benue people should rise up and vote out the APC government , ” Tahav said .
When contacted , the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Hassan Dodo , said he could not comment on the matter as he did not have any information relating to the development .
He asked our reporter to write a letter to the finance minister to seek a clarification on the issue.
Meanwhile , the convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace , Joe Bukka , on Tuesday , described the decision of the Federal Government to recall the Paris Club refunds paid to Benue and four other states as “ the height of impunity , executive recklessness and a witch – hunt against ordinary Nigerians. ”
Apart from Benue , some of the other affected states were Delta , Imo , Benue and Rivers .
Speaking in Makurdi , Bukka insisted that the Federal Government had embarked on a systematic witch – hunt of some state governments probably for political reasons at the detriment of the ordinary Nigerian and civil servants .
He said , “ In the first place, it is not the responsibility of the Federal Government to monitor how states disburse and utilise their funds . Moreover , the Paris Club refund was only warehoused by the Federal Government on behalf of the states ; it is not a gratification or loan .
“ So , the Federal Government lacks the powers to recall the money which belongs to the state from the onset . As far as we are concerned , this is the height of impunity , executive recklessness and a witch – hunt against the ordinary Nigerians who were expecting to get the backlog of their salaries from the fund .
“ We just wonder if this Federal Government has the interest of the ordinary people at heart . Just take for instance a state like Benue that has over time been contending with socio-economic and security challenges as a result of the lingering herdsmen killings , and you want to treacherously sit on their legitimate funds.
“ No doubt, this directive will cause collateral damage to the socio- economic life of the government and people of the affected states . Hence , it should be reversed without further delay because even if the states fail to transparently appropriate the funds , they would have the people to contend with .
“ The Federal Government must realise that this move will deepen the animosity of the people of the states like Benue towards the APC- led Federal Government because they will be hurt the more and obviously unhappy . ”