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The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and some Civil Society Organizations have appealed to the Federal Government to delay the disbursement of the N649bn Paris Club refund to states until after the inauguration of incoming governors on May 29.

The call followed a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed that the Federal Government was set to disburse the outstanding N649.434bn to states. The Minister who stated this on Thursday in Abuja at a press conference hinted that the money was the last tranche of the refund

“For the final phase of the Paris Club debt refund, the total sum of N649.434bn was verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded state governments. The payments made by the Central Bank of Nigeria as of March 2019 is N691.56bn.

The increase in CBN payments partly arose from the exchange rate differential at the point of payment. Although some states still have outstanding balances, they will be refunded in due course.

Speaking, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba said the union’s recommendation to the Federal Government would be to delay the disbursement of the money till after May 29, when the newly elected governors would have been sworn in. He said the reasons border on accountability and the manner the previous refunds were used by some governors.

“The incumbent governors have a few days to go, so I am of the strong view that the money should actually be given to the incoming governors who would start on a clean slate and address substantial issues in governance.

“Clearly, some of the outgoing governors would like to use the money to pay severance allowances, which I think is not a priority, and you know that some of the states have spent huge amount of money on their build-up for the 2019 elections.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director, Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project, SERAP Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the release of the fund should be delayed till after inauguration.

“Since many of them are in the twilight of their tenure, the payment should be delayed till after the inauguration of new governors. If somebody has only a couple of days (11 days) to the end of his tenure, why give them an opportunity to superintend that volume of money.”