The association of former ward councilors in Enugu state has threatened to embark on mass protest, to press home the demand for payment of their severance package.
Members of the group numbering up to 260 who served in their various local government areas between 2012 and 2016 lamented that up till date, after successfully serving the society for two consecutive terms in office, the state government is still playing to the gallery and taking their demands for granted, despite all promises made to them by the state Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The group which spoke to news men in Enugu yesterday, through its leader, Rt Hon. Ochiagha Chinedum from Igbo Etiti LG; who was flanked by Rt. Hon Peter Ajah from Nkanu West KG and Rt. Hon. Paschal Enebe from Ezeagu LG explained that “the law establishing councilorshp position provides that an official who successful serves any tenure is entitled to 200% of his annual salary as severance allowance.”
The group however, stated that they were paid 4% of the total allowance by the state government through Paris club refund in December 2017 as well as held several meetings with the Governor from 2015 till this year; with the Governor promising “to offset all the severance allowances owed the tjem when the federal government pays the third tranche of Paris club refund.
“But the Governor has failed to do so even when president Mohammad Buhari had made it clear that the refund was meant for payment of arrears, gratuity and pensions.
“During one of our meeting with the Governor, he directed us to meet the ALGON body to discuss payment modality but after our first meeting with the ALGON chairman, he has refused to see us or give any hope of payment to the group.
“Now, to press home this demand, we have met with religious leaders like Bishops of Enugu, both Catholic and Anglican to intervene in our travails.
“We have equally tabled our frustration with some notable political leaders like the Enugu state house of Assembly speaker and the commissioner for local govt matters etc, all to no avail,” he stated.
Hon. Ochiagha further stated that “let it be on record that after we completed our tenure in office, that all the local govt chairmen paid themselves the said allowance before leaving office, while abandoning us to our our peril.
“It is also on record that he the present state Governor has received his own severance allowance three times for the three terms he served at the national assembly.
“So why then is it so difficult for him to order for the payment?,” Ochiagha queried.
The group further lamented that in the course of fighting for the payment of the owed allowance, its members had been severally subjected to humiliation such as beating and destruction of members’ cars by government agents; while its erstwhile leaders championing the payment were offered juicy positions by the state government to frustrate the group’s effort.
“We have lost many of our members to untimely death and the majority who are still alive are in a seeming pitiable conditions due to government frustrations, despite our sacrifices to the Governor in 2015 election where we campaigned across the state for him and our solidarity journey to Abuja, where we went to show him our support on the day of judgement in a case between him and senator Ayogu Eze.
“Let me tell you, our patience has been overstretched. And after exploring all the peaceful options available to us, we will have no option than to to embark on a peaceful protest in Enugu to drive home our demand.
“Meanwhile, the legal option is also on our table as a group,” Ochiagha concluded.