Allow Us To Breathe, Local Govt Workers Beg Uzodinma

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Say with over N4.2 billion monthly our salaries remain unpaid

It has been revealed how the Imo State Governor receives over N4.2 billion monthly and without any Joint Account allocation committee(JAAC) meeting uses an unknown consultant to pay workers salaries leading to the staggered and non-payment of workers salaries since March this year,a situation that has caused the death of many local government staff.

A group of local government workers who had previously petitioned the catholic priest Rev. Fr. Mbaka of Adoration Ministry Emene Enugu (AMEN) over Imo government refusal to pay their salaries have again with startling revelation of how local government funds are being diverted by Governor Hope Uzodinma. 

One who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity  revealed that the wage bill of local government before Uzodinma came on board in February was within the range of N700 million and N800 million whereas the allocation that comes into the 27 local governments is between N3.8 bilion-N4.2 billion unfortunately since February when governor Uzodinma came on board they have had no Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting to discuss how local funds will be disbursed. The group wonders what happens to the allocations that comes into the state.

When asked why the local government is not in charge of local funds, the source said,“only the governor, the Accountant-General, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Permanent Secretary Bureau for local governments are the people signatory to the Joint Account, that is why the governor  directs what happens to the accounts and that is why our salaries are staggered. 

The group accused the governor of hiring a stranger element who has no business with public funds to be paying salaries which has led to the staggered and non-payment.He further revealed that what the governor does is that when allocation comes he gives instruction on how much should go to the local governments which is usually far below what is required.

One of the aggrieved staff who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity disclosed that “as it stands today workers who have not been paid do know where to go or where to report. He revealed that an unknown consultant pays workers salaries not the Accountant General nor Commission for Finance. Nobody knows the consultant ,our source stated that many staff of the local government system have died as a result of non-payment of salaries to cater for themselves and their families.

He pleaded with the governor to put a halt to staggered payment and pay them their appropriate salaries in due time. The He also disclosed that at present there is no project going on in the local governments and the money is in the custody of one man. The workers are also pleading that check-off dues from their salaries should be paid to their union.

 It would be recalled that Imo civil servants under the aegis of local government employees (NULGE) had sometime in August this year appealed to Fr. While Mbaka to prevail on governor Hope Uzodinma whom he prophesied his emergence would turn around the fortunes of how people to pay their salaries.   

The workers, lamented in the petition that, “most 1 local government workers have not been paid since March till date, while some were paid one month salary. In all, only about 20% of the entire workforce have received their salaries upto date.

They noted that, in some local government councils like Orlu, all staff of the health department and CONHESS staff of the Agric department have not been paid since March, while, in Oguta and Oru East LGAs, government has continued to approve payment of salary to only about 60 out of the entire workforce of about 400 staff, thereby subjecting the rest to untold hardship, lack and deprivation.

In Oru West, only 16 staff out of the 400 staff on the councils payroll have been paid upto date while other staff are still owed several months arrears of salary. The pitiable story is the same m all LGAs in the state”.

They berated the state government for giving flimsy and untenable excuses for inability to be alive to it’s cardinal responsibility to Imo workers. “They initially said that those who were not paid salaries either did not submit their BVN “umbers or submitted incorrect BVN numbers and account details”.

But some of those accused of submitting wrong BVN numbers and accounts details had received salaries once or twice after providing the required information. With which BVNs and through which account numbers were they paid them?”

They condemned the insensitive and overbearing attitude of the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Dr (Mrs) Rosemary Izuogu, who claimed to be acting on the directive of the Governor, stormed the secretariat of some local government area councils with some people unannounced and ordered the staff to appear before them for a  verification exercise, contrary to the Governor’s it at home directive that all offices, markets and other public places should be locked because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government’s directive that all offices, markets and public places should remain closed, while all civil/public servants should remain at home, was publicized through sponsored radio announcements/press releases, newspaper publications and government circulars. All boundaries leading to Imo State were consequently closed”.

NULGE, as a responsible id responsive union, directed her members to obey government’s directives. Surprisingly, some people led by the Permanent  Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Dr (Mrs) Izuogu,  purporting to be acting as the Governor’s directive, invaded some LGA council headquarters unannounced and ordered the staff to appear for a verification exercise.

They pleaded with Fr. Mbaka to appeal to the Governor, to allow some of

Their members who were not verified because they were outside the state then and came back after the temporary relaxation of the lockdown and re-opening of borders to be given a chance.

“We implore the Governor, to recall the suspended staff of NULGE, in line with the provisions of fair hearing, as contained in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and allow those yet to be verified to do. This, will in no small measure, enhance industrial, peace and harmony in the state.

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