Local Council Workers Greet Dickson’s Second Tenure With Protests | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Local Council Workers Greet Dickson’s Second Tenure With Protests

Posted: Feb 15, 2016 at 6:29 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Igoniko Oduma,Yenagoa

Local government council workers in Bayelsa State on Monday greeted Governor Seriake Dickson’s second tenure with protests as they went on rampage to protest unpaid salaries and allowances.

The workers under the umbrella of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) are angry that they were being owed between four and nine months.

It was gathered that the council workers also shut down the secretariats of the councils. The incident took place barely 24 hours after Dickson was sworn-in for another term of four years.

They insisted that the council secretariats would not be re-opened until their salaries and allowances were paid.

Sources said workers in Nembe and Ogbia local government areas were owed between eight and nine months while those of Yenagoa local government were owed four months.

The remaining five councils of Sagbama, Brass, Kolokuma-Opokuma,  Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw were also owing their workers.

It was learnt that in Yenagoa local government, the workers had stormed the council secretariat as early as 6am Monday chanting solidarity songs to draw public attention to their plight.

They were said to have carried placards with various inscriptions like, “The chairman has not told us the problem. The political appointees have been paid up to date”,  “We are owed for four months”, “NYSC workers have not got their allowances”, “Our chairman is a sadist”, “Internally generated revenues are in private account,  not in council treasury”, “Council workers are not slaves, they should be treated as human beings”, among others.

The  Chairman of  NULGE, Yenagoa local government chapter, Oyoro  Kwaka,  said the council was owing them since October 2015.

He challenged the council chairman to tell the world what he did with the allocations of November to December.

Kwaka alleged that the alerts of income arising from the IGR of the council usually went into private bank account instead of the council’s account.

“They are owing us October, November, December and January. Our children are at home; they have been sent back home from school because we cannot pay their school fees.

We did not have money for Christmas, for the first time in this local government, we could not afford to buy a grain of rice for Christmas, yet the politicians bought rice, cows, goats, wrappers and so many other things for themselves. Even now, the politicians have been paid up to date but they refuse to pay us our own salaries for four months.

Allocations have been coming. In our council, the revenue goes to the chairman’s personal account. The revenue unit has not received alert, The chairman gets the alert if any money is paid to the council account. It is not done in any organization. This is a local government, the money collected from revenue should go to the local government account.

If he refuses to pay us we will not vacate this place, we have the backing of the security agencies and we have announced on the state radio that we are embarking on this protest”, he said.

Responding to the development, the Head of Local Government Administration,  Ovienadu Torutein, said the council was owing some categories of workers for three months and others for two months.

“Yes, we are owing. some for three months and some for two months. The reason is that the allocation we receive from the Federal Government is not enough and it affects not only this local government but others.

We are even trying to meet up with payment of salaries more than other local government areas.

We have a salary wage bill of about N97million or thereabouts and if we add that of the politicians, it is about N108m and we receive less than that. On the average, we are receiving between N70m and N80 million after the statutory deductions”, Torutein stated.

He urged the workers to exercise patience, saying that the council was working hard to ensure that their salaries were paid.

But according to another NULGE official, who pleaded anonymity said that the beginning of the problem of indebtedness to workers began during the 2015 general elections when huge sums of money were deducted from workers’ salaries.

He said even during the governorship election, some councils were made to ‘donate’ up to N50m monthly for the election.