By Dennis Agbo
ABAKALIKIâ€”OVER 400 former councillors in the 13 local government councils of Ebonyi State who served between 2004 and 2007 are demanding for immediate payment of their severance benefits owed them for about three years.
Chairman of the ex-councillors’ forum, Mr. Edwin Onwe, who spoke to Vanguard at the weekend, lamented that despite the order of Governor Martin Elechi, directing the commissioner for local government affairs, Mr. Celestine Nwali, to commence immediate payment of arrears of the benefits, nothing had been done to effect their payments.
Governor Elechi had, after an executive council meeting, directed the local government commissioner to commence payment of the ex-councillorsâ€™ severance benefits but the ex-councillors said they were shocked that governor
Elechiâ€™s directive was being treated with ignominy.
Onwe, the ex-councillorsâ€™ chairman, said Nwali had promised to off load the payment within 30 days but regretted that the promise has not been fulfilled by him
Onwe said:Â Â â€œSince the governor has given directive, the commissioner should comply. We are about 400 councillors, including supervisors, secretaries, coordinators and vice chairmen. If that money is paid, most families will benefit and this will hep the governor in his second term bid.
â€œFor Governor Egwu called us in 2007 and told us that we should return Elechi as his successor and we did just that. We are now asking the commissioner to pay us that money because we are all PDP members and we are all totally in support of Governor Elechiâ€™s administration, his programmes and policies.
â€œThis is a benefit that other states in the country pay to our colleagues, so why should our own be different?â€
Onwe stated that the advantage the ex-councillors have over the present serving councillors is that where the former have their regular meetings, the present councillors cannot meet because of governmentâ€™s directive.
â€œWhat we need is encouragement from the governor