Barely a month after local government employees and teachers downed tools in Akwa Ibom State over nonpayment of salary arrears and leave grants, Comrade Anestina Iweh, the State Chapter President of their umbrella body, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has advised political delegates to nominate candidates that will cater for their welfare and solve problems bedeviling the local government system.
Comrade Iweh, writing on her official Facebook handle, observed that as party primaries near, delegates have been camped in hotel rooms by aspirants. She however counseled them to vote their conscience and not to be carried away by financial inducement, or intimidation.
The NULGE President further advised them to “vote for a man or woman with human sympathy, vote for people that need positive changes in the Local Government system, vote for those that will understand that without the Local Government there is no State, vote for people that will support and grant the Local Government Financial Autonomy,
vote with integrity, vote your consciences knowing fully well that posterity will beckon on you.”
“As a Local Government Chairman, when last did you pay impress to your workers, political class and even yourself? Have you been able to renovate your dilapidated Council Secretariat?
Does your staff have tables and chairs in their offices or they still use stone to support their tables? Is your Council connected to the national grid or you only manage generator to power your office only to the exclusion of all other offices?
“My dear Honourable Councilors, have they started paying your furniture allowances? Are your legislative chambers what it’s supposed to be? Are you aware that so many Legislative Chambers are operating in former Chairmen’s Quarters? Do you also know that those that started building one cannot complete it till today?” she asked rhetorically in the post.
NULGE in Akwa Ibom State went on strike in March 2022 at the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum the union issued to the state government. “That is why we are going to protest. We want to let the whole world know because we gave them 21 days ultimatum to meet our demands. And 21 days is enough for someone to call us and talk to us, but nobody is talking to us.
“Two local governments have not received 2018 leave grant, also 20 local governments have not received 2019 leave grant. Then the 31 local governments have not received the 2020 and 2021 leave grants and we are now in year 2022. “As at 2014, about 9 local government councils are owed salary arrears till today. Ikot Ekpene Local Government for instance, is four and half months, Abak Local Government Council, two and half months. The situation is very pathetic,” Iweh explained at the time.
At a recent press conference, the NULGE State President lamented the disparity in payment of promotion arrears: “the Union is compelled to draw the attention of His Excellency and relevant authorities to the disparity in the payment of promotion arrears to the staff of the Local Government Service in the State as against what is obtainable in the State Civil Service. It is a verifiable fact that the last time staff of the Local Government Service were paid promotion arrears was in 2014, whereas, their State Counterparts have enjoyed this allowance up to 2020.”
(C) Ofonime Honesty