Lagos LG Boss, Council Workers Bicker Over Unpaid Salaries | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lagos LG Boss, Council Workers Bicker Over Unpaid Salaries

Ambode Akinwunmi
Posted: May 3, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Temidayo Akinsuyi

Lagos- “ A worker is worthy of his wages”, so says the  Holy Bible. But that appears not to be the case with some council workers in Lagos  Mainland Local  Government  Area  in  Lagos  State who have written a petition to Governor Akinwunmi  Ambode, accusing the  Executive  Secretary of the  council, Mrs. Omolola  Essien of withholding their salaries for almost three months.

The employees, mostly junior workers,  in their petition also accused the council boss of high handedness, saying she is plotting to take their jobs from them in order to give it to her cronies.  They alleged that having worked for several years in the council, Mrs Essien, who was appointed as Executive Secretary in 2014 after the tenure of the former of the council chairman, Oladele Adekanye (now a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly) asked them to write application letters to seek for jobs in the council.

Speaking further, the workers who chose to remain anonymous for fear of being victimized said the council boss has refused to pay their salaries because she is interested in contesting the forthcoming local government election in the state. They accused her of withholding their salaries so as to prosecute her election with it.

However, in her response,  Essien denied all the allegations leveled against her by the workers, though she admitted that some workers are being owed salaries.  Speaking on telephone with Independent, she said the protesting workers are non- pensionable staff employed by the local government and not local government workers under the  Lagos State civil service.
According to the Executive Secretary, the decision of the Council to conduct an audit of the staff of the Council was informed by the discovery that there are some ghost workers who are feeding fat on the lean resources of the council.
She said the audit was conducted to actually verify the number of staff and also to uncover ghost workers who are on the payroll of the Council.

She added that the verification exercise  was initiated by the Lagos State Civil Service  Commission in order to weed out ghost workers from the entire 57 councils in the state.

According to her “ These ones are not real staff of the local government. They are non- pensionable staff. They are not staff of the local government. Some are street sweepers, drainducks, neighbourhood watch and so on”.

“It is not my decision alone. It is the decision of the exco and the management. There is a circular that came from the Lagos State Civil Service Commission that there a lots of ghost workers in the councils.   The non-pension workers are even overbloated.  We now want to audit, therefore we said everybody should rewrite an application if they want their job.  When they write, we will look at their application and take those who wanted”.

“There is a directive from the civil service commission that they will come for auditing. After they carried out their audit,  they discovered that there are 54 ghost workers in our council.  There are some people who are collecting money from three, four different places. An individual will collect salary from drainducks, street sweepers, neighbourhood watch”.

“That is why we decided that we cannot continue this way in view of the paucity of funds at the council and the country in general. We cannot use all our funds to pay salaries while we cannot perform our basic responsibilities to our people. We decided to look inward and we told them to rewrite application as a means of verification”.

“At the end of the exercise, those who will be engaged will now collect their letters of employment.  A lot of them have complied and they have reapplied. Those who have not reapplied are the ghost workers. Those who wrote the petition are the ghost workers who are afraid that their game is up”.

On the allegation that she is keeping the money in order to prosecute election, Essien said the allegations is the handiwork of her detractors who are also interested in her position and are seeking ways of getting her out.

“ Let them go to the state and verify how much we are collecting. Even you as a journalist, don’t you know the economic situation in the country? They are just crying wolf where there is none. They said I am keeping the money to prosecute my election as council chairman. Who knows when the election will take place? It is only God that can determine who will live to see tomorrow. So, why should I be storing up money for election?”

“I believe those peddling these lies are also those who are planning of contesting election and they are looking for ways of smearing my name.  I have been in politics for decades and I have my integrity intact. This is not my first time of serving as Executive Secretary. I have served in that capacity before in Ikeja Local Government. Then we had just 20 local governments, not the 57 we have today.  No one has identified any acts of corruption with me”.

“Those peddling those lies, writing petition to the governor against me are the ones who are behind the fraud in the local government, collecting money in different place.  We know the genuine workers in the local government. Among the street sweepers, we know those who are working.  We have names of over 120 street sweepers, only about 40 are working while the remaining 80 are only interested in collecting free salary.  You can’t find them in the council or the streets working.  That is why we decided to do this verification. And I assure you that once we are through, the genuine workers will be promptly paid. How can I take jobs from people or withhold their salaries? We are all human beings.  I am a parent as well.  I sincerely believe some people are sponsoring these ones to write petition. Is this the kind of issue you write petition about?” she asked.

Comments (1)

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