It was good news the other morning when news filtered out that the federal government has graciously given cash-strapped states a bailout of approximately N714 billion to settle outstanding salaries and other forms of wages to workers in their states.
To the workers, it was probably the best news of the year 2015, given that some that had fallen into arrears for upwards of seven to nine months. To ordinary Nigerians not directly affected by the salary crisis in the affected states, the bailout represents a moment of relief from the plight of the workers.
For the state governments, the bailout is only a temporary measure to relieve them of the scandalous inability to meet their obligations to workers in the states.
It is important for state governments to look inwards to know why they fell into the arrears in the first instance. A lot has been said about the negative impact of the 2015 general elections in terms of funding of the campaigns of political parties, which according to media reports, amounted to billions, if not trillions of Naira. The alleged expenses on the part of the state governments were said to have contributed to their perilous financial status, leading to non-payment of salaries and finally, the bailout from the federal government.
Our position going forward is that state governors should take the welfare of their people into consideration before embarking on any type of financial jamboree that does not generate income for the state.
There is need for state executives to respect public funds at their disposal for the simple that it is public funds that must be spent solely on public interest.
Finally, we want to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for lending a helping hand to the states to enable them to settle outstanding salaries. We also encourage him to put pressure on state governors to re-assess their priorities and place public funds at the disposal of the people.
For now, we welcome the bailout and hope that the nation will not be compelled to grant another bailout in the foreseeable future.