Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has dismissed as fictitious a claim by one of the federal government’s prosecutors, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla that bailout funds given to the state were misappropriated.
A statement issued by Mr. Christian Ita, senior special assistant on media and chief press secretary to the governor, said the remark by Obla was a mischief invented by a “busybody, rabble-rouser whose stock-in-trade is to peddle falsehood against political leaders in the state for narrow personal gains.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the various bailouts, including refunds from Paris and London Clubs paid to the state for the purpose of paying salaries are intact,” adding that “not a kobo of the funds, which are lodged in a state government account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) has been touched”, the governor stated.
According to Ita, “the reason for this is that the governor has directed that the funds be used to pay severance allowances to past political office holders in the state as well as clear outstanding gratuity to retirees.”
The statement scoffed at Obla’s claims that local government employees were being owed salaries, insisting that nobody is owed salaries in the state except for some workers who could not be paid owing to technical hitches arising from a biometric verification exercise.
The governor’s aide clarified: “In claiming that local government employees are owed salaries, he (Obla) conveniently failed to mention that it is due to the hitches with the biometric verification exercise.
“It is pertinent to mention that the hitches are being addressed and local government workers are being paid their salaries in full for all the months that they are owed, which is due to no fault of the governor who has ensured that every local government is liquid enough to pay.”
The statement added that Ayade is today fondly called Salary Master by civil servants in the state on account of his ability to pay salaries ahead of time despite the decline in revenue allocation to the state.
“Indeed, even the organized labour last year conferred on the governor, the Most-Labour Friendly Governor Award in the country in recognition of his labour-friendly policies and transparent management of resources.”
Ita reiterated that Cross River remains one of the best run states in the country with accountability as the article of faith.