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Angry workers shut down Yenagoa over unpaid salaries



Angry workers shut down Yenagoa over unpaid salaries

Tension rose in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital Monday as angry local government workers from the metropolis shut down business and commercial activities at the local government headquarter over four months unpaid salary arrears owed them by the council since October last year.

Angry workers shut down Yenagoa over unpaid salariesThe protesting workers who barricaded the entrance of the local government headquarters located close to the state secretariat and the High court complex in Yenagoa, displayed placards and chanting anti-government songs, prevented movement of vehicles and persons to the premises.

The men and women wearing long and angry faces says their salaries has not been paid for over four month even though they have been coming to work every day diligently, adding that they have suffered enough and it was high time it stopped.

This is coming also as workers in Sagbama, Nembe, Brass and other local government areas has since shut down their local government headquarters over the same issue. It was gathered that in Sagbama local government, the workers is been owe up to nine months salary while in Nembe local government council, they are yet to be paid for up to ten months.

Some senior staff of some of the local government who didn’t want their names in print attributed the problem to the 2015 general election and the recent governorship election in the state, where monies were allegedly deducted from local government allocations to fund for some political activities.

According to the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee, NULGE, Comrade Oyoro Kwaka, said the protest became the last resort after dialogue and communiqué sent to the ALGON Chairman in the state, Hon. Chubby Ben-Walson, failed to yield any positive results.

He said while the workers in the local government spent their Christmas and new- year without salaries, the politicians working in the local government went home with their fat salaries and other incentives like Cow, goats and rice to go home.

He said “We are here to protest over our unpaid salary. Salaries have not been paid for four months and so we are asking the chairman to pay us our salaries. They owe us October, November, December and January.

Our children are home, they have been sent back home from school because we cannot pay their school fees.

We did not have money for Christmas, for the first time in this local government, we could not afford to buy a grain of rice for Christmas but yet the politicians bought rice, cows, goats, wrappers and so many other things for themselves. Even now, the politicians have been paid up to date but they refuse to pay us our own stipends for over four months.”

He alleges that the local government chairman has been siphoning the monies been realize from Internal Generated Revenue, IGR, as monies collected goes straight to his personal account, just as a he challenged the chairman and the principal officers of the local government to come out and tell the workers what they have been doing with the allocation accrue to the council.

Reacting to the workers protest, the Head of Local Government Administration, Mr. Ovienadu Torutein, admitted owing the workers but said it was not up four months as the local government was yet to get January allocation.

He said, ‘Yes, we are owing, some for three months, some for two months. The reason is that the allocation we receive from the federal is not enough and it affects not only this local government but others. We are even trying in meeting up with payment of salaries than other local governments areas.

On why the council prefers to pay the politicians why leaving the workers to suffer, he said, “We have the executive chairman who is the chief accounting officers and he decides in his wisdom to pay some categories of politicians.

“We have a salary wage bill of about 97 million or there about and if we add that of the politicians, it is about 108 million and we receive less than that. On the average, we are receiving between 70 to 80 million after the statutory deductions.”

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