From Victor Seyi, Ilorin
The Kwara State House of Assembly has granted approval to all the 16 local councils in the state to convert their outstanding salaries, pension and gratuity amounting to N5,017,844,699.62 into bailout loan.
The approval became imperative to enable the third tier system of government in the State benefit under the bailout arrangement of the Federal Government.
The approval followed the presentation of Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed’s request by the Speaker Dr. Ali Ahmad at the floor of the House.
The Speaker warned that the bailout loan should be strictly used for the intended purpose, saying that the House would not condone diversion of the loan for any developmental projects.
Ahmad assured that relevant committees of the House would monitor its implementation to ensure strict compliance.
Leading other members in debate, Leader of the House, Hon. Hassan Oyeleke, said the request was necessary due to the inability of councils in the state to pay outstanding salaries, pension and gratuity, saying that the loan, repayable within 20 years,
had a single digit nine per cent interest rate.
Hon. Oyeleke, who said no conventional bank in the country was ready to offer such facilities, urged members to grant the request, saying that no allocation of states and councils in the country could address the problem.
Contributing to the debate, the deputy Speaker noted with displeasure that most councils in the state had been grounded due to non-payment of salaries to the work force and expressed delight that the bailout would promptly ameliorate the standard of living of workers at the third tier of government.
The governor had in his message said debt profile of all states and local governments especially on salaries, pension and gratuity had been submitted to the Federal Government, stressing that the approval of the House was prerequisite to accessing the loan at the Central Bank of Nigeria.