By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA – GOVERNOR Theodore Orji of Abia has read riot act to the 17 transition committee chairmen in the state to implement the biometric system of paying salaries or face the consequences.
The governor’s warning followed reports that some council workers were refusing to imbibe the biometric system and prefer the old method of payment said to be prone to fraud, especially ghost workers’ syndrome.
The governor was alleged to have accused the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, of inciting the workers against the biometric system and warned the leadership of the councils that there was no going back on biometric.
Visibly angry Governor Orji who addressed the 17 transition committee chairmen and other senior management staff of the councils said, “this is an emergency meeting. It is not in my habit to be calling everybody to Umuahia because I know that you have serious business to do in your various councils.
“I brought you here because you are in charge of the local governments. I don’t want to see a negligible few elements to hold the state to ransom. I called some of you last time and we discussed the issue of biometric. The first month we recovered over N88 million from pensions alone. N88 million can build some structures for the state.
“In the Local Government dead people were being paid, ghost people were paid, some workers take salary in up to 10 Local Governments. We decided to introduce biometric which is in use everywhere. Some people are refusing it, not only refusing it but inciting others to refuse it. As Government, we cannot fold our hands and watch you. Why I have called you is to tell you that biometric system must work.
“Any Local Government that does not embrace biometric will not be paid. Any person resisting or harassing you over this, get me the name. We are paying you as and when due so nobody can pull us back. The money is the peoples’ money and should not be fraudulently stolen by few unpatriotic elements”, the Governor fumed.”
“The information I have is that NULGE people are inciting the people; we have not done anything wrong to the people. Most of you are part and parcel of what kept this state like this. You were here when I inherited N2.9 billion from the elected chairmen. When Aba North workers were owed 11 months’ salaries, NULGE did not go on strike. You can’t decide Government’s method of paying you, and it is even the bad method that you want.
“Instead of the wage bill coming down, it keeps increasing. Does it mean that people don’t retire? We have not employed in the Local Government system for some time, yet the wage bill continues to grow. The state Government has called you to serve not to eat to the detriment of others. People no longer render service, the denominator is money.”