By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
Henceforth, the 17 local government areas in Plateau State are to handle the salaries of their workforce individually to curb the trend of blanket industrial action which cripple activities in the entire State.
The State Chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON in a unanimous decision said the development will spur each local government to fashion out ways of improving internally generated revenue to meet emerging challenges.
Addressing journalists at the old Government House in Jos, the State Chairman of ALGON and Chairman, Mikang local government area, Ezekiel Pabuet, flanked by his colleagues said citizens of the State should have the information and understand the need for them to give their support for the smooth running of the respective councils.
He noted, “Salaries of local government workers are yet to be paid since January 2021. This is not deliberate, it is the challenge we are having because about 99.9% of local government revenue comes from the federal allocation. What is generated internally is insignificant.
“We just ended a stakeholders meeting and going by the decentralization directive, all local government areas should handle their salaries individually; independently. Whatever challenge you have, you devise a way of tackling it with the Union there.
“This is for citizens to know because the inflow even with the collapse of VAT cannot offset salaries. We will not tow the path of reversing to the 18,000; it is left for every local government to find out how to solve the challenge.
“The resolution was taken in a meeting and the majority has agreed to it, each local government is working at improving IGR; ideas were brought, each local government will sit up because we are not finding it easy. We are not preempting the workers but we believe everyone will play a role to overcome this challenge.”
State Chairman of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Yohanna Arandong who was a part of the meeting said his Union insist on the centralization of salary to avoid a situation where some members will be paid while others are not because the local government where they work claim not to have money.
His words, “I was at the meeting, we are not in tandem with that but at the same time, we cannot stop them, I have summoned an emergency SEC meeting which is the highest decision-making body of the Union, it comprises of State officials and Branch Chairmen, I will tell them the outcome of the meeting.
“If they are complaining of lack of money, we suggest they leave salary at the State level since they insist, if the staff should rise against them, I will not know what to say until when it happens, we have warned them of the impending danger.
“History has it that when salaries were being handled by the respective local government, it was causing problems because when local government A pays and B does not pay, it brought uprising and protests but when salary was handled centrally if A does not pay, B too will not be paid, everyone will be patient.
“Since they have said so, all that we will do is to direct that branch officers ensure that salaries are paid to them. We have asked them to pay us the arrears but they complained that there is no money to pay for three months, we asked that they pay us two months, again they say they will not be able to afford two months so the meeting ended in a deadlock.”