v  “We receive credit alerts, 2am on Saturday, Sunday”

v  Call for sanity

Civil servants, teachers in primary and secondary schools in Imo State have lamented over what they referred to as the unprecedented pain and agony they are currently passing through as a result of the irregular payment of their salaries and the inexplicable outrageous deductions of between N15,000 and N25,000 monthly from their salaries depending on rank and salary grade level.

Some of the teachers in schools within Owerri Municipal Council, Owerri North and Owerri West Local Government Areas, in separate discussions with this reporter, expressed regret that everything about the payment of their salaries that used to be transparent and self explanatory is now muddled up and shrouded in secrecy. Hence, none of them can  say the months for which they have been paid and those they are being owed.

According to them, the most annoying and frustrating aspect of it is that what you receive as salary this month may be fifteen or twenty thousand naira less when you are paid the next salary, without any explanation.

“What makes the entire process more confusing is that we don’t know the office that is responsible for the computation and payment of our salaries, to enable us lodge formal complaints and seek redress. The Secondary Education Management Board, (SEMB) Imo State Universal Basic Education Board IMSUBEB and even the Sub-Treasury said they are not involved in the computation and payment of the salaries of teachers and do not know who is responsible”.

A Headmistress in one of the primary schools in Owerri North LGA who does not want her name in print told this reporter that, prior to the current dispensation, their salaries used to be accompanied by a pay slip which showed the month, gross salary, the net salary and all the deductions made from the remuneration of every teacher. We also knew who was responsible for the payment of our salaries and where to lay our complaints if and when there is need for that”.

Speaking in the same vein some staff of State Audit Department, Imo State Housing Corporation, and Imo State Sport Council, who also pleaded anonymity, said, “the computation and payment of salaries in Imo State has become a mystery that nobody can unravel. The payroll unit of the various offices that used to prepare salaries of staff have been made redundant and kept in the dark. Nobody knows how salaries are computed and paid. We understand that a consultant whose office address in unknown to anybody except officials of the state government is presently saddled with that responsibility. How the consultant arrives at the figures he disburses as salary, the amount he deducts and for what purpose are strictly at his or her discretion. Hence the outcry and complaints from different quarters.

Aside the deductions, we are still owed several months arrears that we have lost count of.

“However, there are speculations that most of these issues, including the award of contracts are sorted out at the Government House. That is why most of the Commissioners who, out of fear speak in whispers have told some of their confidants that they are merely figure heads who are not in control of their respective ministries”.

Continuing, the source said, “things have become so complicated that the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Head of Service that should under normal circumstance throw light on some of these confusing developments also claim ignorance, stressing that, they are neither consulted, carried along, nor their advice and services sought”.

The irony of it all is that, most time, we receive credit alerts for salary by between 1am and 2am on Saturdays and Sundays. This is a disturbing development that is alien to the civil service procedure and guidelines. Does it mean that some government offices work till the time on weekends. If the answer is yes. Why is it so and what is the purpose?”

They called on the state government to, as a matter of urgency halt the arbitrary deductions from the salaries of teachers and civil servants in the state, adding that with the level of inflation and the prevailing high cost of living, tampering with their meagre salaries is the height of wickedness and insensitivity.

“We implore the governor to come to our aid and make the process a bit more transparent by providing pay slips that will give the necessary details. There is also the need for all salary earners to know who is responsible for the computation and payment of their remunerations for them to interact whenever the need arises, rather than this deliberate policy of secrecy that is aimed at short changing people”.