My inbox is filled with questions bordering on Abia government workers’ salary. Even comments on posts that have no relationship with salary payment, people make comments like ‘Newman when is your Governor paying us?’. So much dust is being raised even by non workers and those I am quite sure are not on Abia State government’s payroll, hence the need to put the facts straight.
It is unarguable, that the Abia State Government has not been taking workers’ salaries and welfare with kid gloves. Even the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), gave this present administration thumbs-up for judiciously utilizing the last disbursed bailout funds for workers salary payment. Whereas some more buoyant states in the federation diverted theirs to other areas that caught their fancy.
It is worthy of note that for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which accounts for 80% of the Abia workforce, the State government had met their salary obligations up to October, which leaves an outstanding of 2 months (November and December). This gap was as a result of our federal monthly allocations that nose-dived to N1.8 billion whereas our salary obligation is over N2.6 billion monthly.
Important it is to clarify that civil servants were paid two months salary in a space of two weeks before Christmas. Thus the State government commenced the payment of October salaries two days after the payment of September. The intent being to enable Abia workers to get their funds before the yuletide.
Truth it is that there are outstanding salaries in some Parastatals varying from two to four months with Pensions inclusive. This was occasioned by paucity of funds as last month’s allocation stood at N2.7 billion, while the wage bill, as stated earlier, is well-over N2.6 billion with overhead payments and off course contractors consideration.
Quite true, the State government got her own share of the Paris’ Club refund which is N10.6 billion. The larger chunk of this fund has been appropriated to salary payment. But this is being implemented judiciously in line with transparent measures to curb sharp practices which has decimated our salary payment system, hence the need to close up the drain pipes of corruption through the inauguration of a sub-committee for salary disbursement which have membership of the SSG, NLC State Chairman, TUC State Chairman, Joint Negotiation State Chairman, NULGE State Chairman, State Chairman of Pensioners and NUT State Chairman.
The body met last week and will meet again before the second week of January after which payment will commence. Before then, it is expected that the ongoing verification of primary school teachers would have been concluded. Same line the government toed during the bailout funds disbursement which attracted wide applause and commendation even from the ICPC.
Cheerily, this administration on assumption did the verification of secondary school teachers salaries which resulted in N446 million we have today instead of N550 million the government used to pay as wage bill.
However, the primary school wage bill have been stagnant at N780 million and we keep asking if any primary school teacher has not retired for the past 6 years, is there no record of demise or even a staff who left the job for something else or gone for ‘Omugwo’ overseas?
It is quite disheartening that the data still being used for primary school teachers’ salary payment was collated six years ago. The attempt to conduct the biometrics of her workforce was sabotaged by some bad eggs in the system as noted by the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku. Hence the need to sustain the ongoing verification which is already yielding impressive results.
It should be strongly stated that the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration has zero tolerance for corruption and financial impropriety, hence the avowed determination and commitment of this present administration to thread the path of transparency and probity in all government businesses.
What is worth doing is certainly worth doing well!
Ubani Newman Ubani is Media Aide to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.