Abia State government has picked holes in the claims by the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Uchenna Obigwe, concerning the state of emoluments of workers, describing such as distortions and falsehood.
The government said that contrary to the claims, it was not indebted to workers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu, said either the NLC chairman was ignorant of laws by the State House of Assembly or was playing politics with salaries of workers.
According to him, the laws of the State House of Assembly, do not encourage state from paying salaries of workers in state parastatals since the management of the parastatals were permitted by law to make, retain and use their revenue to pay their workers as and when due.
While acknowledging that Abia had unpaid salaries with secondary school teachers, Kalu said it was not true that the government had continuously not been paying since October 2018.
Kalu said the wage bill of secondary school teachers in Abia State currently stood around N380 million while that of primary school is around N650 million monthly, “making Abia the South East State with the heaviest teachers’ wage bill of N1.03 billion monthly.”
He said, “We agree that a labourer deserves his wages, and hence, have worked very hard to prioritize workers’ emoluments in the state. The NLC leadership at both state and national levels have confirmed that workers in our MDAs are not being owed salaries and we make bold to state that they have already received July 2019 salaries.
“According to existing laws made by the State House of Assembly, the state government does not pay workers in state parastatals as the management of those parastatals are permitted by law to make, retain and use their revenue to pay their workers as and when due.
“It is on record that this administration has made several interventions to help pay parastatals workers including paying workers of ABSUTH 11 months salary arrears in 2015, payment of N2 billion debt of Abia Poly payment of months of subventions to all the ailing parastatals in the state.
“We have unpaid salaries with secondary school teachers, it is important to state that it is not true that they have continuously not been paid since October 2018. In December 2018, February 2019, March 2019, May 2019 and in June 2019 when they received two months’ arrears, we verifiably made payments to secondary school teachers.
“It is also important to note that it is only in Abia that the state government pays junior and secondary school teachers. In other states, junior secondary school teachers are paid by Local Governments as they form part of Universal Basic Education programme while state governments pay Senior Secondary school teachers only. To correct this observed anomaly, we have already set up a committee on disarticulation of secondary schools to ensure that the right thing is done.“