By Joshua Okungbowa |Staff Writer |Fort News
September 14,2016 9:06pm
Benin City, Nigeria
The state secretary, Mr. Chukwuemeka Agwunye of the Edo state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE has said that the Edo state government under the leadership of Governor Adams Oshiomhole still owes local government workers up to 9 months salary arrears.
Mr. Agwunye said in an interview with our reporter in Benin that some local governments councils were before June this year owed up to 18 months salary which forced the union to embark on a protest in June.
See the interview below:
FORT NEWS REPORTER: I understand the state government has fully paid the backlog of salary owed local government employees, is that correct?
AGWUNYE: “Some of the backlog of salary arrears have been paid, but not all of them. You remember Egor Local Government was owed about 18 months as at that time and the allocation for the month of June which was meant for July expenses was enhanced from the Federation account and so all the councils were able to pay one month salary and two weeks after, the state government was able to secure and release a bail out meant for them which they omitted last year. From there, the state government was able to pay seven months’ salary for Egor Local Government. So as at the end of last month, Local Government Employees are still been owed ten months. We however do not know when they will pay for July which is supposed to be for August expenses.
As it stands today, all the councils in Edo state are being owed between 4 and 9 months salaries, if all the councils can pay one month salary, but I don’t think the allocation that came will be able to offset one month salary in all the councils. Some can pay comfortably. Some might pay half salary as the case might be. That is the situation.
The problem of Local Government workers in Edo have not actually be solved, but it has been reduced a little bit.
FORT NEWS REPORTER: After the last time you had the protest in Benin, did the government meet with you?
AGWUNYE No! The Governor still maintains his ground. He said he is not the employer of local government workers, neither is he responsible for their salaries, but of course we will continue to debunk it. That is not true. There is no way the state government will completely run away from the plight of local government workers in respect to salary payment because the state government appoints the Local Government Service Commission who in turn appoints the local government worker and as a result there is no way he can run away. In law, the principal cannot run away from the action or inaction of his agent which in this case is the commission (Local Government Service Commission). The Commission is the direct employer of local government workers and the Commission is appointed by the state government, so the state government is the principal while the commission is the agent. The principal will therefore be liable or responsible for the action or inaction of the agent which is the commission.
Secondly, the state/Local government joint account is being managed by the state government agency, the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The commissioner of Local and chieftaincy affair is the chairman of the state/local government joint account, so any money that comes to the Local Government Councils in the state from the Federation account is being managed by the state government, so they decide how the money should be shared and in Edo state they decided to pay primary school teachers’ salaries first from the allocation meant for local government councils and the traditional rulers will get their own 5%. Most times what is remaining after these deductions will not be able to pay local government workers.
FORT NEWS REPORTER: What do you intend to do now to ensure all entitlements are fully paid?
AGWUNYE: Nothing we can do now but to tell our members to vote against any government that will not pay them their salaries as at when due. Let’s wait and see come the 28th of September, when elections will be held.
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