The Akwa Ibom State Executive Council of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, has applauded the state governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel for giving priority attention to the payment of workers’ salaries.
The state NULGE expressed happiness that the advent of the current administration under Governor Udom Emmanuel has also breathed life into the local government service as a result of the central vouchering system which has ensured that no worker is owed salary.
In a press release signed by the state president, Comrade Anestina, J. Iweh and publicity secretary, Comrade Kingsley Akpan, NULGE affirmed that apart from the monthly salaries of workers in the local government service received as at when due, the governor had few months into his administration, approved the immediate release of a backlog of gratuities and pensions to retired Local Government workers owed between 2002-2011, a development the body said was monumental and for which it will be eternally grateful.
The State NULGE said the National President of the Union, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, mni was misrepresented in a recent widely publicised statement in the media as credited to him, which listed Akwa Ibom among other 23 states as owing workers’ salaries.
The release stated, “The immediate reaction of the Akwa Thorn State Government has been that of rebutting the averments of the National President of our Union, while arm chair analysts and critics have taken up spaces both in the print and electronic media to throw innuendo and brickbat and cast aspersion on the integrity of the government of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.
“While acknowledging the fact that the statement may not have been conceived to smear and embarrass the Akwa Ibom State Government per-se and indeed other hard working governors who have laboured enormously to ensure an improved welfare package to the Unified Local Government workers, the inclusion of the Akwa Ibom State government as owing four months salaries is indeed worrisome and we consider this to be an error of judgement capable of isolating our Union within the labour family in the state and causing conflagration of monumental proportion.”
The Union said the erroneous statement is regretted and that in consultation with the National President, it wishes to accordingly disclaim the misinformation and plead with the governor to disregard it.
The Union further stated: “As a responsible union under a responsible government, we have been engaging the government on vital issues that affect the welfare of our workers. It is on the strength of this engagement that we have received the approval of the government to re-engage over 150 staff delisted by Skye Bank Consultants in 2014 over very spurious reasons. Some Health Staff who were engaged years ago under the previous administration but were not remunerated will soon be activated on the E-payment platform as at date.
“Recently the government has compiled for immediate implementation various promotions earned since 2010. The Union is still engaging the government on payment of Leave Grants owed since 2014 which had been promised the Union to be settled with effect from July, 2017.
“It is obviously not correct that the government is owing workers four (4) months salaries across the state. What is true is that the State has been making frantic efforts to meet with statutory entitlement of workers in the Service.”
The state NULGE however lamented that some local government council chairmen had in 2013/2014 owed their respective workers’ staff salaries and that it was pleading with the state government to inherit the councils’ liabilities in order to ameliorate the plight of the workers in the nine affected local government councils, expressing appreciation that progress has been made on the matter.
The body stated categorically that it will refuse to be used or to align with those it described as “opportunists and opposition partners who would wish to capitalize on the misrepresentation allegedly made by our National President of the Union to draw bad blood in Akwa Ibom State.”
It said: “We don’t intend to play politics with the sweat of the workers. It is our consideration that hands should join with the Government in building a virile state and bequeathing lasting service ethos to the people of Akwa Ibom State.”