*As workers who took bank loans place curse on Gov. Ikpeazu
Workers of the 17 local government areas in Abia state have decried the nonpayment of their February and March 2016 salaries, stressing that the situation has brought untold hardship to their families.
Worst hit are council workers who took loans from commercial banks, using their salaries as collateral. The situation has caused many council workers to be heavily indebted to banks who seize their salaries as soon as their accounts are credited. The workers have resorted to cursing Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu for his inability to pay salaries which have exposed to the risk of banks always seizing any money paid into their accounts.
A cross section of council workers who spoke to 247ureports.com lamented even as at the 4th day of the new month of April, there are no signs that salaries would be in the next one week and blamed the situation on what they described as misplacement of priorities by the Ikpeazu led administration. “The governor has not been fair to local government workers. He is always paying in arrears. December 2015 salary was paid in the first week of February; January salary was paid in March. February salary has not been paid, this is April, there is no hope that we will be paid this week. How can a worker plan and achieve any target with this system? Our leave allowances have been withdrawn. Yet we hear he collects N750 million every months, but he finds it difficult to pay us the pittance as salaries. They said a worker is worthy of his wages, but this is not true in Abia state. Only God will judge our case with the governor.”
A staff of Arochukwu council identified as Okereke dismissed the excuse of the fall in federal allocation and monthly revenue receipts to the state government as the reason for the nonpayment of salaries.
According to him, “We know that there is a fall in oil prices but is not enough to owe council workers. No matter the monthly allocation, what is always allocated to the council in the state are enough to pay salaries but the problem that the governor sees the local government allocation as slush funds. The government operates joint account with the local government, this has been our greatest problem. Why can’t Ikpeazu allow the local governments to manage their allocations and see if salaries will be owed workers? It is still the same system with the immediate past government, nothing has changed. Council workers are suffering in Abia state.”
Said a staff of Isiala Ngwa South council who pleaded anonymity, “I used my salary as collateral to take a loan from one of the commercial banks in Aba. Now that salaries are no longer been paid as at when due, it has been a big problem for me. When January salary in March 2016, the bank seized all the money, yet I’m still owing them. As at now, I owe the bank two months, may be it will get to three months because nobody knows when February and March salaries will be paid, it may be in the last week of April. It would have been easier for me to pay them if salaries had been more regular. The problem is that you can never be paid two months at a time no matter if they owe you 5 months’ salary arrears.”
When contacted on the development, an official of one of the old generation banks told 247ureports.com that they have been directed by their headquarters in Lagos to stop extending loans to council workers because of the nonpayment of salaries leading to the creation of bad debts.
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