Workers in Abia state have urged the state government led by Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to use the bail out fund released to the state by the federal government to pay
workers and pensioners of the state their salaries and pensions.
In a Press Release titled ‘The Plight Of Workers And Pensioners Of The Abia Polytechnic Aba. Sos To The Federal Government’, and made available to Elombah.com today, the workers warned the Abia State Government: “Dont Divert Bail Out Fund”.
However, responding to Elombah.com inquiries, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu stated he has directed the setting up of a Committee to manage the N14.152B being expected from the Central Bank of Nigeria as Federal Government approved Bailout Funds for payment of outstanding salaries in Abia State.
Ikpeazu assured Elombah.com that his administration is committed to using the bailout funds for the purpose of payment of salary backlogs, but added that “only genuine salary backlogs owed to actual Abia State workers will be paid at the end of the exercise.”
But lamenting that the workers and pensioners of the Abia state polytechnic Aba are owed salaries and pensions for nine months now, Emeka Nwankpa and Chris Chilaka, Chairman and Secretary of the Abia Concerned Workers Forum, stated that “the workers and pensioners of the polytechnic are going through hell now and many have started dying”.
“The same thing apply to other establishments in the state.”
The group therefore asked President Buhari to “please” come to their aid.”
In a statement signed by Sam Hart, his SSA Public Communication, Governor Ikpezu told elombah.com that the Committee is expected to be inaugurated by the Secretary to the Abia State Government by Monday, September 21, 2015.
The Committee according to the governor is expected to be made up of the following:
1. Representative of the Head of Service of Abia State
2. Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Abia State Chapter
3. Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Abia State Chapter
4. Auditor-General of Abia State or his Representative
5. Accountant General of Abia State or his Representative
6. Statistician-General of Abia State
7. Special Adviser to the Governor on Economic Affairs
Their Terms of Reference of the Committee will include :
1. To determine the exact amount owed Public Servants in Abia State
2. To determine the actual duration of backlogs owed workers in Abia State
3. To apply Bailout funds for its original intendment
4. To determine any other issue incidental to salary arrears in Abia State
The governor also stated: “It is pertinent to point out that the funds are yet to arrive the State. Information available is that the money has been released to the designated Abia State account but it is undergoing normal internal banking processes before it is credited as cash.
“The Governor in keeping with his pledge that the money will be deployed solely for the original intendment of defrayment of salary backlogs has therefore taken this step to ensure that the process of disbursement of the funds is transparent.
“It is also pertinent to note that the Integrated Payroll Verification System which was introduced by the Ikpeazu administration upon assumption of office has so far saved the State over N300 Million from incidences of Ghost Workers, padding of salaries and other underhand practices during computation of wages.
“Note also that as is the practice in the civil service, whether money is available for payment or not, salaries are computed monthly and sent for payment. Thus, all the outstanding salaries previously computed in the past and sent in without payment which presently constitute the bulk of these backlogs will contain these anomalies and discrepancies that have been observed in recent times.
“It is therefore the work of this committee to take a second look at these outstanding salary claims and pass them through the fine comb that has enabled the state save N300 Million so that all excesses and irregularities are combed out before payment is made.
“The Bailout fund is not free money. It is actually a loan with a 20-year repayment period at low interest rate so the Governor has a responsibility to ensure its judicious utilisation for the benefit of the people of Abia State.
“The Governor has given a commitment that by Friday, October 30, 2015, all outstanding arrears would have been offset. This is therefore a call to all concerned to support the Governor in this noble quest to rid the system of all unscrupulous elements who collude with themselves to defraud the system.
“In the event that any section of the workforce chooses to make trouble in the course of this process, chances are that they are being instigated by the elements who want to stampede the government to pay backlogs that include salaries to Ghost workers and outrageous paddings of salary claims.
“The Abia State Government is resolute. The right thing will be done and will be seen to be done by all concerned”