From: Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Bayelsa State chapter, has declared that the dwindling federal allocation should be blamed for the salary backlog in the eight local government councils of the state.
This was even as the Bayelsa State Government said it has saved N40 million from checkmating payroll fraud in Ogbia Local Aovernment Area alone.
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has been at logger-heads with council chairmen over the non-payment of salaries leading to industrial actions in some of the councils, which prompted the state government to intervene through the Ministry of local government.
Chairman of ALGON, in Bayelsa State, Mr. Wisdom Fafi, stated this in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, where he was to address what he called “deliberate misrepresentation to discredit Bayelsa State Government.” He said there was no local government council owing 18 months salaries in Bayelsa State.
Fafi who spoke in a briefing also attended by the chairman of Yenagoa local government council, Oforji Oboku, said with the improved allocation from the federal government, the councils are determined to clear the backlog of salaries.
“We all know that we are having challenges in the payment of salaries. It is also not peculiar to local government councils in Bayelsa state alone. I am sure Bayelsa is even better than some local government areas in Nigeria. It is pertinent that when some information, get to the public, it is important that we make clarifications.
“We are aware that in the latter part of 2015 and major part of 2016, we had challenges paying salaries. We called stakeholders together on the way forward to tackle the salary challenge. We resolve that though the allocation is small but the labourer is worthy of his/her wages, so we decided to pay 50% and collectively we paid the 50 per cent.
“By our investigations, there is no local government owing salary up to 18 months. Information before me indicates that Yenagoa Local Government Council is owing seven month salaries, Kolokuma/ Opokuma Local Government Council is owing seven months salaries, Sagbama Local Government Council is owing nine months salaries, Southern Ijaw council is owing seven months salaries, Brass local government council is 10 months, Nembe is also 10 months.
“The only local government council where there is controversy is Ogbia local government council which owes 13 months salaries. Since we came into office we have decided to ensure prompt payment of salaries. We as chairmen have vowed that civil servants would be paid before political office holders.”