Lack Of Accountability Responsible For Unpaid Salaries – Lawyer

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated September 12, 2017
Eze Onyekpere

The Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, Mr Eze Onyekpere, has blamed the inability to pay workers’ salaries on lack of accountability on the part of state governors.

Onyekpere believes most states would have been able to pay workers’ salaries if their governors used the Paris Club refunds in line with the Federal Government’s recommendations.

“Beyond the (Paris Club) refunds, we had bailout funds which had been given to the states at the initial period and with a sub-national fiscal sustainability plan, which they were asked to conform to if they were serious about running their states,” he said on Channels Television’s political programme on Tuesday.

“Available evidence indicates that most of the states have not actually looked at that fiscal sustainability plan in terms of introducing greater accountability and transparency in their budgeting process, opening up their procurement process, opening up their debt sustainability process in such a way that they can procure debts that will be sustainable and generally looking inwards to raise more money within the state.”

– Little Emperors In Their Domain –

The lawyer accused the governors of running the affairs of their state as “little emperors”, saying a situation where workers were owed salaries for months was a result of the inability of the legislature to call them to order in terms of funds management.

“What we have first of all is an accountability challenge and that challenge is that the State Houses of Assembly are not in a position to hold the governors and call them to account.

“So it’s a question of lack of accountability coupled with the resources that are getting leaner and leaner by the day. That has led to a situation where governors are like little emperors in their domain. Nobody challenges them, the legislature is not there to hold them to account.

“At the end of the day, they spend the money the way they like and this is what has led to this situation where workers are perpetually owed and I’m sure that across all the states of the federation, people who are supposed to get pension are not paid,” he said.

Onyekpere further called on Nigerians, including the media and civil society to focus more on the affairs of the state.

He said more attention is needed at the state level, stressing that the issue of unpaid salaries might not have lingered for so long if state governors were accountable to the legislature.

“The most reasonable thing to do is that if they (the governors) were in an actual democracy, the legislature should have been the body to call the leaders of the executive to account.

“But I think also that it is an opportunity for civil society, the media, the academia, for everybody, to become more interested in what is happening at the state level because it appears we are more focused on what is happening at the federal level,” the lawyer said.