The N300 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lifeline, which will enable them pay their workers, will be ready in two weeks.
Of the 36 states, 27 have applied to draw from the cash relief packaged by President Muhammadu Buhari through the apex bank.
The CBN facility is one of the three-pronged reliefs designed by the Federal Government to help financially troubled states.
The other two are:
sharing of the $2.1 billion (about N414 billion) 2014 Income Tax/Education Tax; and
dividends paid to the Federation Account through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited.
Besides, the states’ loans are to be rescheduled.
President Buhari, about three weeks ago, directed the CBN to package the loan to enable the states pay the backlog of salaries owed their workers.
The CBN is to package a Special Intervention Fund ranging from N250 billion-N300 billion to the states with low interests.
Investigation revealed that the apex bank, however settled for the higher figure in view of the magnitude and the depth of the financial commitment of the states .
The decision on the N300 billion relief package was reached at the end of discussion at the last National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja last Thursday.
At the meeting were CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and the governors.
A CBN source told The Nation yesterday that barring any unforeseen circumstances, disbursement to the states will begin in two weeks.
There was no information yet on the identities of the states seeking the relief package, even as it was learnt that in making their requests, each of the 27 states submitted details of its indebtedness to the banks, the amount owed to contractors, arrears of workers’ salaries as well as outstanding pensions.
Presidency sources said Buhari’s recourse to the measures was intended to ease the pains workers have been undergoing.
Many attribute the sudden dip in states’ finances to the crash in global oil prices that have cut Nigeria’s revenue by over 50 per cent, but some governors have blamed it all on the Federal Government, which they alleged owed them backlog of billions they claimed to have spent on maintaining federal facilities in their domains.
They argue that had the Federal Government lived up to its responsibilities and relieved them of that burden, they would have had no course to seek for any palliative from it.
As the states await the disbursement of the CBN package, opinions are divided over the rationale behind the President’s directive.
Workers and many economic experts have hailed the President for his intervention, which they say is not discriminatory, adding that it will bring life to the economy. Others, including some members of the National Assembly, have approached the court to determine if Buhari has the powers to grant relief to states without recourse to authorisation from the legislature.
– The Nation