By Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABA—ABIA State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has vowed to sack heads of state parastatals owing salary arrears to workers if they fail to settle the issue within three months.
Ikpeazu who issued this ultimatum in an interview with journalists in Umuahia wondered why many parastatals in the state are up to date with workers’ salary while others still have several months of outstanding arrears.
He said: “Abia State University is up to date with workers’ salary. Same with ABSEDA, ASPIMSS, BCA and other parastatals. Whereas some revenue generating parastatals like Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, and Abia State College of Education, Arochukwu, are unable to pay workers as at when due. None of these parastatals remit their revenue to the state government; they are permitted to use whatever they generate to run their operations. We give them subventions and offer other financial support to ensure they pay their workers and run smoothly but, despite all this, they are still unable to pay workers.
“Obviously, the issue has to do with management of those ailing parastatals and if within three months they don’t shape up, pay workers and put in place sustainable plans to ensure regular payment of workers, we will wield the big stick and bring in those who are ready to work hard like others in those parastatals that are up to date.”
…to pay pensioners with Paris refund
“With regard to pensioners, we are very much concerned with the outstanding and have committed to use the bulk of the expected Paris Club Refund to settle as many months of their outstanding as possible. But beyond that, we are determined to put in place systems that would ensure future pensioners are not owed by subscribing to a new contributory pension scheme.”
Abia to pay newminimum wage
On the new minimum wage demand by workers, Ikpeazu assured that the state is ready to pay whatever is agreed between NLC and government negotiating team.
“We are already paying more than the current minimum wage of N18,000 to our workers and I am sure that we will be able to pay whatever is agreed in the course of the negotiation between Labour, Federal Government and the Nigeria Governors Forum. As you know, we currently pay the highest wages per worker in the South East and it is also public knowledge that we gave all our bailout and Paris Club Refunds to a Labour-led committee to distribute because of the love we have for our workers. In fact, when we received the second tranche of N5.7b, I gave all the money to workers without removing one kobo,” he said.