Abia council workers protest non-payment of salary arrears, leave allowances
Workers in Umuahia North Local Governnent Area of Abia on Monday protested the non-payment of their four-month salary arrears and leave allowances.
The angry workers, numbering at least 200, locked the main gate to the council headquarters located on Bende Road, chanting anti-government songs. The protesters called on the Federal Government and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to come to their rescue.
They barricaded the main entrance to the council, displaying placards with different inscriptions, including “We have not received our leave allowances 2014, 2018, 2019.”
“NFIU should come and rescue us;” “Our allocation has been tampered with and our salaries not been paid by Abia Govt.”, among others. The protest paralysed official activities in the council.
In an interview with newsmen, Mr Dick Nwosu, the Chairnan of the National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE) in the council, expressed deep worry over the plight of workers as a result of the development.
He said: “For four-and-a-half months, we have not been paid. We are owed by government. Let them come and pay us. We are suffering. Our 2017, 2018, 2019 leave allowances have not been paid to us. We are human beings.
“Most of us have families and it is painful that we cannot afford to take care of them, yet we are working. The allocation has been coming from the federal government as and when due. Then what is holding the salaries?”
Nwosu said they were not fighting the council because it was still operating Joint Allocation Account Committee (JAAC) with the state. “We are only asking them to pay our salaries and allowances,” he said.
When contacted on the cellphone, the Transition Committee Chairman of the council, Mr Kelechi Ezechukwu, said he was not disposed to comment on the issue.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Information, Mr John Okiyi, told newsmen that the matter was purely that of the local government council.
He said that the state government had nothing to do with the salaries of council workers, pointing out that local governments had become financially autonomous.
“The report we have received from the local government chairman is that he was going to pay them one month salary, meaning that they are being owed only three months,” Okiyi said.