Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the state government is not responsible for the failure of local government authorities to pay their workers, explaining that he meets the monthly wage obligation to the state workers and that Local Government workers must be paid by their respective Local Governments and not by the state government.
Speaking when he received the National leadership of the National Union of Local Government Workers ( ULGE), led by its National President, Khaleel Ibrahim.
He said: “I want to say it clearly that Edo State Government does not have the responsibility of paying the salaries of Local governments. I am not, and I will not collect taxes from people to pay Local Government workers. I don’t know what they do in other states, but in Edo State, we respect the full autonomy of Local Governments and this autonomy goes with responsibility. I challenge your union leaders to show any evidence to the contrary.
“Under the previous administration, the revenue of Local Governments was being spent on their behalf by the state government. They even bought second-hand tractors at an inflated price and distributed to Local Governments and deducted the money from Local Government funds, that is what the PDP was doing. The union in Edo State did not raise a voice.
“Just last week, the traditional rulers in Esanland said the best the then government did for them was to give them a loan of five hundred thousand to buy cars at that time and they deducted the money from Local Governments, the Union leaders did not raise a voice.
“What have I done since I came in, first I discovered that during the tenure of my predecessors, Local Governments in Edo State had a tradition of collecting a percentage of their money and paying to the previous Government before they got their allocation, I said No, this government will not touch Local Government money, local government money will be managed by LG for the benefit of the people in your localities. So I challenge your union to prove anything to the contrary. I have not done any procurement for Local Governments; I have not done employment for Local Government, I have not sat down to make any transfers for Local Governments, I have not in any way interfered in the funds of Local Governments. Therefore, if Local Governments cannot manage their money they only have themselves to blame.
“Number two, and I speak with every sense of responsibility and I challenge NULGE (National Union of Local Government Employees), Edo State to prove to the contrary. When they had this kind of situation in 2010 or 2011 when the tenure of the Local Governments expired, they asked their own fellow members who are Heads of Service — and next time you don’t call a meeting like this without inviting those responsible for managing the Local Government, I am not going to take panadol for another man’s headache — on that occasion we appointed Heads of Personnel in the respective Local Governments, not appointed by us, we met them on the job, and we asked them to manage those Local Governments instead of appointing politicians. And I stopped them from awarding any contract, I stopped them paying any money, I even stopped them from paying the Police, Traditional rulers and so on.
Mr President, I am proud to say that we saved over N6 billion for the LGs because I directed the Heads of Personnel not to spend the money, and as a result, the arrears of salaries that were being owed the LGs were paid in full.
“This last Local Government that their tenure expired over two months ago inherited over N6 billion. I don’t know any state government that will save money for Local Governments. As we speak today, the amount that is allocated to each Local Government is stated right from Abuja. It is not repartitioned in Edo State. I insist that no matter the situation, Local Governments must at least perform one of their most basic responsibilities, namely the payment of teachers’ salaries.
If Local Governments cannot pay teachers’ salaries then we should abolish them. They were not created because they wanted to pay Local Government employees, if they are not involved in cleaning market and they not; they are not involved in grading roads and they are not; they are not involved in sanitation work which they are supposed to be doing and all they want is meeting once every month and sharing money, that is unacceptable to Edo State government. I cannot carry my headache and carry their headache, I am not here to pay salaries, I am here to work for Edo people.”
Everybody must put on his thinking cap, there is no more free money to distribute.
I read a communique in which they accused me of saying Edo State workers are being paid, correct. Edo State Government workers are paid. Local Government workers are not Edo State Government workers, they are Local Government Workers. Once I don’t touch your money, you cannot hold me responsible for your woes. You are there as Union leaders you see your money being diverted. So you have a responsibility to watch and ensure that the money of Local Governments is managed judiciously for the benefit of Local Governments.”
On the salaries of Egor Local Government, Oshiomhole said “due to the incompetence of the Local Government workers themselves, the treasurer, the Head of Personnel, etcetera, they did not make their claim when others were making theirs own. The federal Government approved for those whose names were on the list. But the good news is I have intervened, I have made a case, I have shown that the Local Government was omitted due to their own fault.
“The good news is that the Federal Government has approved , having seen that they were actually omitted. I believe we have secured the money for Egor Local Government, and once it is released, it will be paid to the workers of Egor. But there is no other bailout for Local Governments to the best of my knowledge.”
Earlier, National President of NULGE, Khaleel Ibrahim said they were in the state because of their members in Edo State.
“The national leadership is sincerely not very happy and we find it very difficult to remain in Abuja while our members do not get their salaries some up to 18 months.
“We could not stay back because we feel that we are part of this government and being part of this government we equally find it very shameful to leave the situation of Edo while we are battling other issues in other states. So we decided that we must come to join the state leadership who are already on ground protesting non-payment of salaries. Our members are angry, our members are hungry and you know a hungry man is an angry man.
“The truth of the matter is that we are here to support the unpaid, hungry local government workers of Edo state and we know that something is going to be done about it.”