Imo LGA Autonomy Suffers Setback As AG Takes Over Management Of Council Funds

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–      Lawmakers get N2m each as inducement

–      Imo civil servants  neglected

Aify Global

The remunerations of members of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) now hang on the balance and left to fate as the office of the Accountant General of the state curiously takes over hundred percent (100%) administration of the funds of the local governments in addition to the statutory payment of pensioners wages. 

Information available to this medium sourced from Government House Owerri reveals that since the inception of this government, there has been no Joint Account Allocation Meeting (JAAC).JAAC meeting as observed is usually to discuss disbursement of  council’s funds.

It was also revealed that in other to allegedly compromise the Imo state Lawmakers, the state government is to pay each lawmaker of the House of Assembly the sum of N2 million from the Interim Chairman’s new security vote of N4 million each month.

As soon as the government took-off in mid January 2020, workers of the 27 local government areas were instructed to supply their personal Bank Verification Number (BVN) with the assumption that this will enable government overcome some anticipated challenges in the local government system and fish out ghost workers but contrary to their expectation, most of the workers have not been getting their salaries except few who are paid batch after batch with questionable deductions. This is a situation where one LGA is paid this week, another a week after.

Whereas the Commissioner for Information, Hon Declan Emelumba had gone on air claiming that local government and IBC workers as well as Imo State pensioners have been paid their salaries in full, our independent investigation revealed that only few local government workers as well as some categories of pensioners earning below N10000 monthly have received their salaries up to March 2020. Up till the time of going to press, payment of March salaries for civil servants, LGA workers and pensioners have not been completed. For instance, IBC, Imo Water Board etc are yet to receive salaries for March 2020, hence the lamentation everywhere.

In most of the local governments, if not all, less than ten percent of the total council workforce was paid. Most of those who were supposedly paid after all, did not receive their full payment as most of the vulnerable pensioners were left with months of pension arrears.

So far,these unpaid workers do not know who to petition. Local Government Interim Management Committee Chairmen are said to be unaware of the current predicament of their workers as they are only  concerned about the security vote of N4 million monthly which they will now share with their House of Assembly members.

A source who doesnt want his name in print revealed that the idea is for the state legislators to abandon their oversight function in ensuring judicious spending of council funds.

The source revealed ,”on Monday May 4th the Goverment approved N4 million to each of the Chairmen as their security vote for April 2020 with directive that each lawmaker from their various LGAs gets N2 million out of the April 2020 security vote. With this development the local government workers do not know where or whom to lay their complaints to.

“Unlike when the payment of local government workers was done by the council administrators (comprising DAGs and Treasurers), the Imo State Accountant General has taken over payment of all categories of council workers and entrusted with 100% management of all funds accruing to the 27 LGAs monthly in addition to payment of pensions.

At press time, most pensioners in Imo State are yet to receive their March 2020 pensions especially those earning up to N10,000 and above monthly with a new list of pensioners and their data were compiled during the total lockdown, following the Coronavirus pandemic”. 

It was gathered that on Tuesday, May 6, 2020, some senior staff of the local government system in Imo State stormed the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Mrs Rubby Emele, to inform her about the non-payment of their salaries. The Special Adviser, a former Council Chairman feigned ignorant of their predicament and the position of local government funds under the present  administration.

Meanwhile, the Imo State House of Assembly has set up a committee to look into the operations of the Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS) along with the council Treasurers, with the belief that they were withholding the lawmakers monies and not for public interest of workers. 

In another development, workers of Imo State University (IMSU) Owerri have been instructed to submit their personal BVN to the office of the Accountant General. Perhaps with a view to be paid or receive their monthly salaries from that office, in line with a new federal government guideline for a unified payment of university staff salaries directly from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

When contacted,the house committe chairman on information,Hon Dominc Ezerioha who also represent Oru- West LGA denied receiving any inducement to shut them up and discourage them from carrying out their oversight functions.

He further stated that the much he knows is that the new accountant general of Imo, in a bid to fish out ghost workers came up with some programs which he said could be the reason for the delay in payment of workers salaries.He however never was silent on  #2million inducement package from the executive.

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