The Kogi State government has dismissed the allegation of non-payment of salaries and allowances by Deputy-Governor Simon Achuba, describing it as frivolous.
Concise News reports that Achuba had vowed to seek legal redress at the National Industrial Court if Governor Yahaya Bello fails to release the statutory allocations allegedly due to his office after the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum.
He called for the release of all statutory allocations due to his office for 2017, 2018 and 2019 amounting to N819,709,980.00.
The government has however dared him to approach the court at the expiration of the ultimatum given to it in the letter from his counsel.
The government in a statement by the director-general, media and publicity to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the state government had at no time stopped the salaries of the embattled deputy governor as claimed in the letter from his counsel.
According to him, the claim of indebtedness of N819 million by the government was bogus and could not be substantiated by the deputy governor.
Fanwo said: “The Kogi State Government has upon receipt of the said letter immediately responded to the same and expressed its readiness to meet the Deputy Governor in court over his bogus claims. While we would have ordinarily refrained from making the instant publication, we are constrained to make same in the light of the fallacy contained in the widely publicised letter of demand and the accompanying headlines and news by different news mediums.
“The Kogi State Government hereby states that the salaries of the deputy governor have been paid up to the same date as that of the governor and other political office holders in Kogi State. It is our belief that the claim for salaries at paragraph 4 of the letter of demand was done to generate sensational headlines in the news as there are no stated salary arrears in the prepared breakdown of claimed entitlements attached to the letter of demand.
“The salaries of the deputy governor have not been stopped at any time since he became the deputy governor in Kogi State.”
The state government also said many of the sums that Achuba claimed he was being owed were yet to be approved for payment.
The statement said, “The sum of N786, 427,480 of the outrageous N819, 709,980 claimed by the deputy governor have not been approved let alone processed for payment by the government. The deputy governor is aware that by virtue of extant financial regulations, even where expenditures are provided for in the budget, they are still subject to approvals based on an estimation that funds to defray will be available; and where they are approved, the release of such funds still depends on the availability of funds.
“The deputy governor is also aware that those expenditures may not be approved or that lesser sums may be approved based on the availability of funds. The claims of the deputy governor in this regard are therefore premature and mischievous.”
Fanwo also explained that Of the N819 million claimed Achuba, there were expenditures like unauthorised pledges of N23.2 million, which are not provided for in the corresponding budgets of the relevant year.
“Also included were claims for unauthorised trips of the deputy governor and his wife and other expenses which may or may not be approved, yet the Deputy Governor has claimed them as due for payment,” read the statement.
The government added that out of the N819 million claimed by the deputy governor, only N33.28 million had been approved but might not have been released because of the paucity of funds.
Fanwo said, “while these have been approved for payment, the Deputy Governor knows the very stiff competition for the meagre resources of the state by the state’s wage bill, loan repayments, infrastructure bills and so on and the need to ration scarce resources to serve the majority of our people rather than a few.
“It is therefore not deliberate that these approvals have not been cash-backed. It is hoped that resources will become available shortly to meet not only these demands but those of others which have not been cash-backed for longer periods than those of the deputy governor.”