Chairmen and interim management committee members of Plateau’s 17 Local Government sacked last week, have asked the state government to settle the six months salaries and allowances owed them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Simon Lalong dissolved the committees on June 29. He had appointed them in July 2015, after sacking officials elected in 2014.
Some chairmen and members of the interim management committees, who spoke with NAN on Sunday, complained that the last time they received salaries was in December 2016.
“Since the beginning of this year, nothing has been paid to us. No one has received salaries or allowances. We have had to resort to our private pockets to meet basic running costs,” a chairman of one of the dissolved committees, told NAN, craving anonymity.
Another chairman, who spoke on the development, accused the Plateau government of subjecting them to hardship in the six months preceding their sack.
“The last six months were very tough for me and the other members. No subvention was released to us. No one was paid salaries or allowances. At a point, transporting oneself to the office was very difficult.
“As the chairman, I had to avoid the office to dodge contractors seeking payments, and many other people seeking one assistance or the other,” he said.
He said that the situation was worsened by the “sudden dissolution” because the governor had consistently persuaded them to remain in office so as to supervise the forthcoming Local Government polls.
Another official, a Secretary of one of the sacked interim committees, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the Plateau government of treating them “unfairly”.
“Government was not sensitive to our plight, especially since the beginning of this year.
“Salaries were not paid. There were no subventions to meet basic commitments like fueling official cars. Salaries and allowances were not forthcoming. It was a frustrating and very difficult period.
“As the Secretary of a local government, I could not pay my children’s school fees. My family was even chased out of an apartment I was renting. It was very shameful,” he said.
He urged the Plateau government to settle the salaries and allowances of the sacked officials to enable them settle debts and meet basic domestic commitments “especially in this period of economic recession”.
Contacted, Mr Emmanuel Nanle, Director of Press to the Governor, confirmed the non-payment of salaries and allowances to the sacked local government chairmen and members of the interim management committees.
He blamed the failure to pay salaries and allowances on the poor financial status of Plateau.
“They (sacked council officials) know that the financial status of the state is not too good; the situation is not even peculiar to Plateau. Government is not happy that they were not paid their dues.
“But government is already making efforts to pay them. By God’s grace, we should pay up before November,” he said.
Nanle disclosed that the governor met with the sacked officials on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 during which he explained the situation to them, and urged them to be patient with government.
Mr Daiyabu Gargak, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, who also confirmed the non-payment of salaries and allowances, blamed it on the prevailing economic recession.
“It is unfortunate that we found ourselves in this situation; resources keep dwindling, making it difficult for us to meet basic responsibilities.
“What comes to the local governments from the federation account is little and can only accommodate salaries of staff with nothing left for projects. We expect the dissolved committee members to understand and exercise some patience.”