NLC pickets Abia Accountant General's office over salary arrears

By The Citizen

The Abia State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Monday, picketed the office of the Accountant General of the state, Mr. Gabriel Onyendilefu over allegations bordering on non-release of subventions to parastatals and salary arrears.

Before 7: 00am, the aggrieved workers had sealed all the entrances to the AG's office putting every gate under lock and key including the entrance to the Ministry of Finance.

NLC also sealed the Sub-Treasury's office located at School  Road Umuahia after compelling the security man on duty to leave the premises or be locked inside.

Inscriptions on some of the placards displayed by the irate workers read: ' Onyendilefu is the Rehoboam of Abia State, the wrath of God will catch up with him soon, Onyendilefu is the worst AG Abia has ever produced, You have dealt with us, God will deal with you, Onyendilefu is the Accountant Genocide of Abia State.'

Addressing journalists later, the  NLC Chairman in the state, Comrade  Sylvanus Eye, expressed serious disappointment over the arrogance and insensitivity of the AG over the plight of Abia workers.

He accused him  of flouting orders from the governor and non payment of salary arrears of parastatals some of which he said ranged up to six months.

Other sins of the AG according to the NLC boss include: refusal to release check- off dues of unions; non payment of gratuity and pensions; withholding of approvals by the Governor and blackmailing the Governor.

The NLC boss said ' all local government areas  in the state are all in arrears of salary, no school is not being owed, staff of ASUBEB are owed three months , and workers in Health Management Board  are owed six months of salary arrears.'

He also alleged that over 2000 workers were made to pay N2000 each for a promotional exam that was never conducted nor was the fee refunded.

The agitated Labour officials said their grouse with the AG was that even after several pleas were made, and the governor gave direct instruction to effect payment, he still faltered.

They said the premises of the AG would remain locked  until workers' demands were all met, threatening that  their demands could graduate to something more serious should government fail to respond swiftly.

Adding his voice, the state's Chairman of Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Chris Okoro, said all workers and the industrial unions in the state were solidly in support of the NLC's action.

When contacted for his response, the AG dismissed all the allegations as fictitious and exaggerated saying that ' the function of payment is dependent on available cash.'

He said in the past five months, the state's allocation from the federation accounts has been dwindling following the constant fall in oil price, hence the inability of his office to effect payment on all the approvals.

The AG said his actions were not deliberate but as a result of the realities on ground, arguing that if he were acting arbitrarily as being alleged, the Governor would have called him to order.

His words: ' If what they are saying is correct, then what is the governor doing? Has the governor queried me? The governor has not accused me of any embezzlement.'

He however, acknowledged that some parastatals were being owed salary arrears but said it was blown out of proportion by NLC, adding that he was not the one in charge of the salaries of council workers. Punch