Wednesday, 30 September 2015

GOV. UGWUANYI OPENS UP ON THE MASSIVE DEBTS ACCUMULATED BY NNAMANI AND CHIME

Rt. Hon. Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State Governor
The Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has announced that his administration needed excess of N32.2 billion to clear the arrears of workers’ salaries, gratuities, pensions and subventions, which were accumulated by the administrations of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani and Barrister Sullivan Chime.

Gburugburu, as the governor is popularly known as, made this announcement during an enlarged meeting with labour leaders in the state. He stated that the essence of the meeting was to intimate the labour leaders with the efforts to procure the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) bailout funds to liquidate part of the debts, adding that it was important that the workers were carried along to determine the best ways to disburse the fund.

In the governor’s own words: “The essence of this meeting is for you to know that we have formally applied for the sum of N4.2 billion for the purpose of defraying debts owed workers in the core ministries. We want you to interface with your colleagues in other states to recommend ways the funds will be managed when it arrives. We have been consistent in the payment of salaries and subventions because we understand that you have to pay salaries to activate the economy of the state. We do not have money and if we must continue to do our projects we need to get money from somewhere.

“We intend to look for funds that will attract single digit interests and that way we can restructure within the life of this administration. We promised you accountability at all times and it is important to point out that workers in the local government areas are not covered by this N4.2 billion bailout fund.”

To buttress the governor’s points, the Accountant General of the state, Mr. Pascal Okolie, stated that the bailout was to pay one month’s arrears of pensions, salaries of non-permanent workers and subventions owed the government agencies. According to him, Enugu State owes the sum of N9.6 billion in gratuities and pensions, N1.8 billion in salaries and N1.46 billion in subventions to the agencies.

In his response, Mr. Virginus Nwobodo, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, thanked the governor for being straightforward in the deliberations. According to him, they are aware of the financial challenges in the country. However, he expressed worry that the bailout fund was inadequate to liquidate the debts owed the workers.

In his own words: “The economic situation of workers and pensioners in the state is pitiable. Some pensioners have not received pension and gratuity for upwards of 10 years and 20 years. Some have died prematurely while the wives of some of the men have left due to their inability to provide for their homes. There is need to set up a technical committee to work out the modalities for the disbursement of the funds.”

In his own speech, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Chukwu Igbokwe, stated that the union would release the detailed of debts owed every worker in the state. He said that it was worrisome that some workers had been on half salary for the past three years, while others were owed 36 months of their 50 per cent salaries.

He said: “We want to implore the government to ameliorate this situation even if the payment will be staggered. We, therefore, appeal that this technical committee that will oversee the disbursement of the bailout fund should go beyond the disbursement of the N4.2 billion and see how all debts owed workers will be paid.”