Abia State Government has faulted claims of the state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr. Uchenna Obigwe, with regards to workers’ emoluments in the state, describing some comments by Obigwe as distortions and falsehood, stressing that government was not owing workers in its ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs any salary.
The state Commissioner for Information, Chief John Kalu, said Obigwe was either ignorant of laws by the state House of Assembly or he is playing politics with workers’ salaries.
According to Okiyi, “our attention has been drawn to a statement and a flurry of radio interviews granted by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Chairman in Abia State, Uchenna Obigwe, supposedly on behalf of organised labour, with regard to the state of workers’ emoluments.
“We agree that a labourer deserves his wages and, hence, have worked very hard to prioritise workers’ emoluments in the state. Abia State government is not owing workers in its ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, any salary.
“Statutorily, these are workers paid directly by the state government and they constitute more than 70 percent of the state workforce.
“NLC leadership at both state and national levels confirmed that workers in our MDAs are not being owed salaries and we make bold to state that they have already received July salaries.
“According to existing laws made by the state House of Assembly, the state government does not pay workers in state parastatals as the management of those parastatals are permitted by law to make, retain and use their revenue to pay their workers as and when due.
“State parastatals also do not remit any portion of their revenue to the state government’s consolidated revenue account unlike the MDAs. Rather, the state government provides support to parastatals from time to time through the payment of subventions, which are not necessarily meant to be used for salary payments.
“If organised labour, led by Obigwe, is asking the state government to directly pay salaries of workers in parastatals, then they should be bold enough to approach the state House of Assembly to amend the relevant laws to ensure that such parastatals remit their revenues to the state coffers so the state can assume full responsibility for paying workers in those parastatals.
“It is on record that this administration has made several interventions to help pay parastatals workers, including paying workers of ABSUTH 11 months’ salary arrears in 2015, payment of N2 billion debt of Abia Poly, payment of months of subventions to all the ailing parastatals in the state among others.”
Okiyi, however, acknowledged that “we have unpaid salaries with secondary school teachers. It is important to state that it is not true that they have continuously not been paid since October 2018. In December 2018, February, March, May and June 2019, when they received two months’ arrears, we verifiably made payments to secondary school teachers.
“It is also important to note that it is only in Abia that the state government pays junior and secondary school teachers.”