By Anayo Okoli
Aba -THE chairman of Aba North Council Area of Abia state,Â Prince Ifeanyi Ikwechegh, has blamed the non-payment of salaries on huge number of ghost workers in the council and very little allocation from the Federal Government.Â The council is alleged to be owing workers seven months salary arrears.
Ikwechegh however thanked Governor Theodore for releasing money recently with which he said one month was just paid in attempt to reduce the backlog.
Speaking to journalists in Aba yesterday, the chairman explained that he could never deliberately owe the workers when he is aware that they have dependents.
According to him, of all the 774 councils in the country, Aba North receives the smallest amount of allocation from federal government, which he said accounts for his problem.
He said the highest allocation the council had ever received was N34 million even as he disclosed that the council receives as low as N18 million which he explained is grossly inadequate to pay salaries.
â€œThere has never been a time I received 60% of salaries from the allocation. My total wage bill now is N45.6 million. So how can we meet up when the highest allocation I have got was N34 millionâ€, Ikwechegh said.
The chairman who disclosed that he had got excess crude allocation three times, said however that they were not allowed to pay salaries with the excess crude money but to execute projects, which he said he did very well.
On the issue of ghost workers in his council, the chairman said that there are many of them. He described them as â€œghost workers that are staffâ€ as they were never seen in the office. He regretted that the council could not easily sack them as they were not employed by the council but by the state government who deploy them to the councils.
To solve the problem of salary arrear, Ikwechegh noted that it will involve aggressive cutting of the staff strength m, but said he can not do so with hope that things will get better. He admitted that most of the workers are not doing anything in the council.
The chairman who disclosed thatÂ he has a staff strength of 1380, regretted that â€œbarely 200 of them come to workâ€, adding thatÂ he only needs about 100 workers to run the council.
He called on the Federal Government to increase allocations to the councils since they are nearer to the people. Ikwechegh also called on the Federal Government assist the state in providing infrastructures in Aba, which he said would help to improve revenue to the governments.