The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has dismissed claims by his deputy, Simon Achuba, that he is being owed over N800 million.
He, therefore, challenged Mr Achuba to head to court if he believes he has a case.
The governor in a statement by his spokesperson, Kingsley Fanwo, said the salaries of the deputy governor had been paid up to the same date as that of the governor and other political office holders in the state.
He, however, admitted that some of the claims of the deputy governor have not been paid because they were either not approved or there were no funds to pay them.
Mr Achuba had complained that Mr Bello deliberately denied him his accumulated entitlements amounting to N819.7 million. He issued an ultimatum to the state government for the payment of the said amount.
According to him, the amount comprises travel allowances, hotel bills, outstanding monthly imprest, as well as allowances and salaries.
But responding to a letter written by lawyers on behalf of the deputy governor, Mr Fanwo said the allegations were made to generate sensational headlines in the news as there were no stated salary arrears in the 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,” he said.
“The sum of N786, 427,480 (Seven Hundred and Eighty Six Million, Four Hundred and Twenty Seven, Four Hundred and Eighty Naira) of the outrageous N819, 709,980 (Eight Hundred and Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty Naira Only) 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.
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“The claims of the deputy governor in this regard are therefore premature and mischievous,” Mr Fanwo stated.
He added that of the N819, 709,980 claimed by the deputy governor, there are expenditures such as unauthorised pledges running into N23,200,00 which are not provided for in the corresponding budgets of the relevant year.
“Also included are 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.
“Of the whopping N819, 709,980 (Eight Hundred and Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty Naira Only) claimed by the Deputy Governor only N33, 282, 500 (Thirty-Three Million, Two Hundred and Eighty-Two Thousand, Five Hundred Naira only) has been approved for payment.”
“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 e.t.c 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.”
Mr Fanwo added that the governor 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.
“We note that the deputy governor has also in his claims included imprest. It is our position that it is the office of the deputy governor and the permanent secretary in his office who is entitled to imprest and who can demand payment of same.”
He said imprest is paid on availability of funds and the government had in the past paid imprest as at when due when funds were available.
“The payment of imprest will continue to all imprest holders as soon as funds are available.
“While we are certain that the deputy governor’s claims are frivolous, bogus and borne out of mischief and an attempt to embarrass the Kogi State Government where he currently serves and draws immense benefits; we reiterate our readiness should he be ready to proceed to court to meet him in court for the ventilation of his alleged grievances,” Mr Fanwo said.