TARABA: To Downsize As Govt Is Yet To Access Fund

THE government of Taraba State, under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, is finding it cumbersome to put smiles on the faces of public servants, as monthly remunerations are no longer paid as at when due. What is presently giving workers sleepless nights in the state is that should the state continue to face the ongoing financial challenges, the government as The Guardian gathered, may be compelled to downsize its workforce.
The financial crisis in the state may not be unconnected with the continued delay by the federal government to fulfill its promise of lifeline to the government through the bailout fund. Even before the move by the central government to come to the aid of state governments, Taraba had been literally on it knees, while seeking financial infusion.
Taraba is among a few states that are yet to access the fund, the reason being what financial experts attributed to the lukewarm attitude of the state government towards meeting up with the conditionalities.
In a recent interview, the President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Bala Kaigama, remarked that the said bailout could only be made available to states that are proactive in meeting up with all the relevant requirements needed to access the fund. “On the issue of accessing the bailout funds, there is a procedure that all states must follow to be able to access the fund. If you are able to follow with due diligence, fast and being proactive, you get the funds from the first batch.
“ But if you are not able to process yours in a flash, you are sleeping or not meeting the templates created for beneficiaries to key in, obviously, you will take a longer time to get yours,” he explained.
Though, the governor is yet to assign portfolios to the commissioner-designates, financial experts believe the reason behind the inability of the state government to access the fund compared to other states, is due to lack of relevant documents.
“As an accountant, I know that accessing a particular fund no matter your position in the society, depends on meeting certain requirements. So, I am very much sure that these rules, which include the provision of certain documents, are yet to be met by our state.”
Corroborating the TUC’s stand, an accountant, who pleaded anonymity, blamed the state government for not treading the path of other states that have been given the fund. “Had it been that our governor is proactive like others that have been given the funds, I am quiet sure that our story would have changed by now.”
The accountant agreed that the state government is currently finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries due to the burden of debt it inherited from the immediate past administration. He said workers in the state might be compelled to embark on an indefinite strike.
Citing the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the state chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the ongoing plans by the state university staff to down tool, the accountant maintained that if urgent action was not taken to access the fund, government activities would soon be paralysed.”
While admitting that the state still receives its share of monthly allocation from the Federation Account, he said such funds “are most times seized by the banks as repayments for overdrafts, loans and bonds received from the banks by the past administration.”
It was gathered that the situation weighs more on local council workers, some of whom have not been paid for three months. Some of these council staff told The Guardian that they feel so sad at the way and manner the third tier of government is relegated to the background in the state.
“Before the coming of this government what is meant for us at the local council level does not get to us. And what we observed is that this government is following the footsteps of the past administration. So that is why we have been agitating that the Federal Government should stop dealing with us through the state government, they should deal with us directly,” said a distraught council staff.
Revealing how they are often made to sign for huge amounts of money during the Joint Account meetings, which he said, often takeS place at the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the staff said, “at the end of the day they don’t release such hefty amounts to the councils.”‎

- The Guardian ‎