COMRADE Davide Ofoeyeno is the President of Delta State Chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE. He has been in unionism for years, holding various positions, before his election to head the state chapter in October 2009.
In this interview with EMMA ARUBI in Warri, he gave reasons why the National Executive Council of NULGE in Delta State is today honouring Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan with “GRAND PATRON”of the union, an award ever bestowed on any Nigerian by the union.
We understand that your union is honouring Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan with your highest award. What is the reason behind the award?
We want to give Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan the award after the National President of NULGE x-rayed the activities and contribution of the Governor, came to the conclusion that since his administration came into being he has contributed immensely to the development of the local government system and the state in general especially welfare of the workers.
For example, it is the responsibility of the local government to pay primary school teachers salaries. But after assessing the financial burden the local government is encountering in Delta State, the governor started contributing about 700 million naira every month for the payment of primary school teachers.
So if not for the timely intervention of Governor Uduaghan by taking almost 70 percent of the payment of primary school teachers, by now the local government would not have been able to pay primary school teachers’ salaries, not to talk of engaging in other development projects in the state.
The governor has contributed immensely to the welfare of the workers in the state/ local governments. For any salary increment emanating from the federal level, the state government has ensured that state/ local government workers benefit from such increment.
We are no longer treated as third class citizens as far as wages and allowances are concerned in the state. For that, we must commend the Governor, he has tried. He has also contributed in the area of training and re-training of council staff, sponsoring seminars and workshops for them.
Only last month, Dr. Uduaghan sponsored the entire State NULGE Executive Council, SEC, to South Africa for a seminar/ workshop which we benefited from immensely. There are so many things that the Governor is doing to ensure that local government in the state is well positioned.
He has re-positioned the local government financial system in the state. Before he came into power, the councils were in salary arrears of upwards of six months. But today as we speak, the councils have fully paid all their workers.
So, we are happy with him and when the National wing got to hear all these contributions that he has made to us including enabling us to own a befitting guest house, provided vehicles for the state chapter of the union and p
ayment of allowances, claims and so on, they thought it most appropriate to honour him with the highest award the NULGE can give to any person.
Looking at the local government/state government joint account, has the State Government not been infringing on the rights of the local government?
As for the state/local government Joint account issue, if not for some state governors, left alone for Delta State, we would not have been clamouring for the scrapping of the joint account system because Dr. Uduaghan has never tampered with the local government fund.
In fact, he has supplementing the council funds to pay salaries for primary school teachers to make sure that the local government moves forward. So as far as that is concerned, we are very comfortable with the type of Governor that we have. He has never taken a dime from the joint account.
We are happy today but if the joint account is abolished our fear is that the local government as far as Delta State is concerned, financially does not have the capacity of taking the responsibility of payment of salaries of primary school teachers.
So our fear now is, if they abolish that, will the governor still go ahead to contribute to the payment of primary school teachers? We are not sure of that. That will pose another problem to us. So, the Federal Gov
ernment should as a matter of urgency take over the payment of primary school teachers from the state or local government.