Troubles For Ayade Over Paris Club Refund
With the release of the second trench of the Paris Club debt pay-back refund made by the Federal government to states in Nigeria, Cross River State Governor; Senator Ben Ayade is facing many allegations over his refusal to be transparent in what he was doing with the funds.
Cross River State has so far collected over N17b in two trenches as part of her share from the federal government and recently it was reported that Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court had issued an ex-parte order directing that the Paris-London Club Refund bank accounts of Abia, Cross River, and Delta states be frozen.
The court gave the order amidst allegations that the governors of the three states preferred payment to family members, friends, and cronies in the guise of settling the fees for consultancy services at the expense of the real consultant progenitor of the Paris-London Club Refund.
Back in Cross River State former local government political office holders who served between years 2010 to 2013 are also reported to be exploring options including going to court since the state governor has refused to pay them their severance entitlement.
A number of them, grouped themselves and reportedly visited the office of the state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Ntufam Inok Edim where they laid their complaints and also dropped a copy of a protest letter they wrote to the governor.
The former elected officials and political appointees noted that when the first trench of the Paris club refund was released to the state, the governor kept mum until after about two months when accusations of diversion was laid against him that he disclosed that the money had not been touched and directed that all necessary documentations and computation be done for all outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities.
Adding that when the governor eventually decided to start payment of all the outstandings submitted to him, he only did selective payments of the outstanding pensions, gratuities and salaries.
Concerning the severance allowances of former political office holders, the governor jumped over the entitlements of those who served between years 2010 to 2013 and paid those who served from 2013 to 2016.
They affected former political office holders who were left out are claiming that the governor is making them an escape goat for what the fault is not theirs because they learnt governor Ayade’s refusal to pay them, even with the release of the second trench of the Paris club refund is because he may be having some misgivings with former governor Imoke whom they served under.
“Ayade paid the set of 2013 to 2016 with the fisrt trench of the paris club money because he inherited that set of local government political office holders from 2015” one of them noted.
They also alleged that they heard governor Ayade is not only saying that the set of 2010 to 2013 did not serve under him but that many of them have left the PDP to the APC and he would not empower people who may fight against him politically.
“Many of us are still in PDP Mr. Governor and besides, is the money not given by an APC federal government to a PDP state government? As a former Senator, we are sure the federal government of APC has paid him his entitlements, why is he being selfish and personal in matters of governance”, one of the affected former local government councilor noted.
Another affected person by name Paulina Nyiam said “please Sir, tell Ayade to pay local government appointees of 2010-2013 their severance allowance and to stop directing them to Imoke. Government is a continuum in Asset and Liability. He was a senator under President Goodluck but Buhari paid him his severance, Ayade should get real.”
Responding to the allegations against his boss, the Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Christian Ita noted that “the good thing is that the governor has at least started paying and he has not said he will not pay. You also known he does not have an unlimited resources, so he will pay. Saying that he was not paying because some people left to APC is false because even those in APC today were in PDP and most contracts of the state government including road contracts have beneficiaries who are APC members.”
He also promised that an “official response” to the Abuja federal High court order freezing the state Paris-club refund Bank accounts was in the works and would soon be released to the public.