How Abia paid N14.1 bailout fund to workers, pensioners

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 2 November 2015 | 5,327 times

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Abia State government says it has successfully cleared arrears of salaries owed staff of 64 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with the N14.1 billion loan received by the state.

Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communication, Mr Sam Hart, in a statement issued in Umuahia, said the Bailout Funds Management Committee identified 68 MDAs with issues of backlogs of salaries and has so far sorted out 64 of them, explaining that the remaining MDAs had problems of irregular data computation, adding that the funds to offset their arrears was handy.

“The money for payment to the remaining four (MDAs) are already in the Bank awaiting completion of clearance processes before disbursement,” Hart said in the statement.

Hart use the opportunity to appeal to the Abia workforce to eschew al acts of truancy,  low productivity and other forms of systemic sabotage but should government enthrone a vibrant, results-oriented service.

News Express reports that on September 18, 2015, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, through Dr. Eme Okoro, the Secretary to the State Government, inaugurated a committee to manage the N14.152 Billion Bailout funds released to Abia State by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable the state to clear the backlog of salary and pension arrears owed current and retired workers.

Ikpeazu subsequently charged the Committee to ensure that by Friday, October 30, 2015, the salary and pension backlogs were paid to the beneficiaries.

Membership of the Committee, headed by a Special Adviser to the Governor on Economic Affairs and Commissioner-nominee, Mr Obinna Oriaku, comprised representatives of the Head of Service, Accountant-General of the State, Auditor-General of the State, Organized Labour, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Statistician-General of the State.

The committee swung into action immediately in an attempt to meet the Governor’s deadline by splitting itself into three groups with each handling Parastatals, Pensions and MDAs.

Giving an update on the activities of the Committee, Hart said: “Today, Friday, October 30, 2015 is the deadline given by the Governor for the Committee to achieve its mandate. It is therefore imperative that an update is given on the work of the Committee and progress made so far on their mandate.

“Of the 68 Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Abia State, the Committee has successfully cleared all arrears in 64 MDAs.”

The governor's aide, however, noted that there were outstanding issues in Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Health Management Board (HMB), local government staff and state pensioners

In ABSU, Hart made it clear that “the current strike embarked upon by Staff of the Abia State University has nothing to do with salary arrears as Government has paid its subvention to the Institution up-to-date.” He explained that the strike was occasioned by some demands made by the Academic Staff to the school authority which were yet to be met.

Concerning the NUT, Hart noted that “government has effectively cleared the backlogs of salaries of over 11,000 teachers.” According to him, there were about 13, 000 teachers in Abia. He explained that the delay being experienced in paying the remaining 2,000 was occasioned by “wrong account number and other irregular details,” directing all those yet to receive their salaries to approach their banks “for regularisation of their details.”

For the HMB staff who were owed seven months arrears, Hart disclosed that four months arrears have already been paid, while salaries for the fifth and sixth Months have been deposited in the bank, awaiting conclusion of computation of their outstandings. “The Staff of the Board have been slow in computing their outstandings and whenever they conclude, the funds can be accessed at the bank,” he assured.

Of the 17 local governments, the governor has directed that the staff of Umuahia South Local Government Area should be paid for complying with laid down measures to check ghost workers and truancy.

Hart urged the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to cooperate with the state government to ensure a sustainable salary payment model for the Local Governments by directing her members to embrace and undergo the local government staff verification exercise to facilitate payment of their salary arrears.

On clearing the backlog of pensions, Hart said that government, having paid up till July 2015, has deposited August and September arrears in the Bank and beneficiaries could accessed it from this week.

“The Committee had challenges with some Pensioners due to wrong data imputation and urges any pensioner yet to be paid to please approach the bank for correct data imputation. The Sub-treasuries are yet to submit Pension arrears data for April 2014 to April 2015 and once the data comes in, the committee will ensure full payment to all concerned,” he said.

“The administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu will continue to do its best to meet its obligation to her workers. Government therefore calls on Abia State workers to eschew all acts of systemic sabotage, truancy and low productivity and cooperate with Government to enthrone a new paradigm of service in the state,” Hart added.

He said that government commended the committee for doing a good job while members of the committee expressed gratitude to government for the opportunity given them to serve.

•Chart shows salary arrears owed Abia MDAs.

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