—————By Shedrack Onitsha—————
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Tuesday urged NULGE and council chairmen in the state to sit down and review whether to cut the work force or agreed on salary cut as one of the possible ways out of the solving the salaries crisis rocking the Delta LG.
Okowa at a quarterly media chat with journalists to commemorate his second year in office at the Government House, Asaba, said council workers in the state were being owed over twelve months salaries because of the sharp drop in the allocation accruing to the councils from the federal government.
He stated further that the plight of the workers was further compounded by the over bloated work force and the prevailing economic situation in the country, adding that the state government had not been able to help due the paucity of funds.
According to him, “The bulk of council’s allocation comes from FAAC, but unfortunately what they have been receiving since 2015 is just about 50 per cent of what they used to received, so what they received now is not even enough to take care of local government workers and that of primary school teachers.
“So the salary has become a problem and put together, the salary is about N3.4 billion and what we get monthly ranges from N2.4 billion and sometimes a maximum of N2.7 billion. So, there is always a huge gap. Can we intervene? Yes, but that is when we have enough. At the state, we are finding it difficult to pay salaries of state workers.”
“Therefore, the NUT, NULGE and council chairmen in the state need sit down and agree on a cut the in work force or salary cut to be at par with others state because the salaries and numbers of LG workers in Delta is far more that state average in the country.
“As a Governor I don’t want to be involved in their problem, because the local government is a different tier of government and they gets their allocations from the federation account, just as the state government, so they should be able to come out with a solution to their problems.”
On the activities of herdsmen in the state, Okowa said, “We are aware that there are challenges at the Abraka area but I won’t call it a Sambisa forest. The Commissioner of Police has also been in touch with the DIG, South South.
“As I speak with you, in the past two weeks, two units of mobile policemen which is about 126 policemen with some specially trained anti-terrorist policemen are already resident at Abraka though at a high cost to us, that are looking at the best avenues to get these herdsmen to move out of the forest.
“It is something that has to be planned in such a manner that we do not have ant casualties. But these operatives are providing security there and currently escorting farmers to their farms.
“These units are also deployed to Ossissa. But I believe the federal government needs to speak up on this matter as this is very important if we are to have a way forward on this matter.”
Okowa at the briefing, also denied alleged involvement in the impeachment of a former speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Monday Igbuya, adding that despite his intervention, the lawmakers insisted on his impeachment.
“I believe that the Delta State House of Assembly is knowledgeable enough and they have vibrant lawmakers as members. I do not have any hand in the impeachment of the former Speaker and that is why I spent time to resolve a lot of issues but it was an affair that a large majority of the members felt that the former Speaker needed to give way.
“In fact, for four days, I did not do anything else because of the matter. As a governor, I do not believe that I have the right to be pressing them against their will and that is why the decision was taken by them and that decision stays and I do not think I would involve myself with the impeachment of the former Speaker.”