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By Jon Egie

 

 

Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Gov of Delta State

Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Gov of Delta State

Stake holders have appealed to Governor Okowa to take over the burden of primary school teachers’ salaries in the state in order to end the sufferings of local government workers across the state occasioned by a backlog of arrears of unpaid salaries.

 

Findings by this newspaper revealed that the council workers are owed up to ten months, leading to unprecedented suffering of the council workers and their families.

 

A source informed that a good number of council staffs have died, some now live in their offices as they have been thrown out by their landlords, children sent out of school as parents can no longer pay their school fees, a number of the council staff are down with stroke just cars of some council workers have been impounded by money lenders. “It is a very pathetic situation” the source lamented, stressing that the hope of recovery is bleak.

 

The global drop in oil prices has been attributed as the main cause of the failure of government to meet up with the payment of staff salaries but more importantly, sources at the councils said the payment of primary schools teachers’ salaries, which is deducted from the councils’ account, leave the various councils at deficit and hence there is a pile of deficit, month after month, after receipts of federal allocations.

 

“Whenever there is a surplus, the state government deducts the surplus to pay for what the councils owed” another source informed.

 

The council staffs who spoke to our reporter said there is no end in sight to the bad economic situation they found themselves, pointing out that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by the local government councils is insufficient to run offices not to mention paying salaries. The reality on ground is that the third tier of government in Delta State has collapsed and the situation has shoved governance far away from the people at the grassroots as councils cannot even patch a pothole on a road.

 

Buttressing the call for Okowa to bear the saddle of responsibility of primary schools teachers’ salaries, an informed source said constitutionally, the management of primary schools is a shared responsibility of the state and local government and not that it is an exclusive responsibility of the local councils “rather it gives credence to Section 7 on the 1999 Constitution as amended which makes the councils and appendage of the states.”

 

According to the source, most workers of the local councils employed by the state have no schedule and are forced on the local councils. He argued that if the local government councils were autonomous, they would streamline the number of staffs they employed but that in the prevailing situation, the state employs, disciplines but leaves the burden of payment on the council.

 

“Even the stafsf that were posted to the State Local Government Commission at the state capital, Asaba, draw their salaries from their host councils. The House of Assembly, Directors of various Ministries and Agencies organise seminars for the councils and deduct the cost from the council accounts.”

 

The stakeholders urged Governor Okowa to emulate the step taken by the government of Rivers and Anambra States that have taken over the burden of payment of primary schools teachers’ salaries so that council workers in Delta could breathe a sigh of relief pending when the global oil prices shoots up and the state economy improves.