Governor Adams Oshiomhole has directed the Heads of Service of Local Governments to prioritise the payment of Local Government workers’ salaries, adding that they must look inwards to generate revenue to meet their wage bill and block all loopholes.
Speaking during a meeting with the Chairman of Esan North East Local Government, Mr Sam Oboh and Heads of Service of the other seventeen Local Government Areas in the state, on Friday, Oshiomhole said the government does not tamper with one kobo of Local Government funds.
He said: “A former Chairman of Etsako West told me how they used to take money to the Governor’s office every month before I assumed office and I told him, under my tenure, we would not accept money either for the Governor, the Deputy Governor or anybody in Government, that they should manage their money by themselves.
“You have to state the truth before the Edo public. I need you to confirm whether the state government is involved in your expenditure and if we are not, I need you to say so.
“On assumption of office here, I have never asked the Local Governments to fund any state project. You appropriate your money and spend in your local government. If there is fraud in it, it is purely by yourselves, if there is transparency it is by yourselves.
“When I see Local Government employees demanding salaries from state government, you cannot work for Leventis and ask Coca-Cola to pay you because you are operating in the same environment. We gave full meaning to the concept of Local Government autonomy. You have full autonomy, as I sit here I have never approved, or refused to approve nor was it ever brought to my consideration, any project that a Local Government wanted to embark upon. I told yourselvesLocal Government revenue cannot pay them, you have to look inwards, look at the and your predecessors, the Local Government Chairmen that they should spend their money by themselves. If they had problem it was of their creation.
“If there’s resource gap arising from the sharp drop in the prices of oil, this is for them to explain and that sharp drop in the price of oil which affects the allocation in the price of oil also affects the allocation to the state government. So they should demand their salary arrears from their respective local governments and not from the state government.
“If Local Government revenue cannot pay them, you have to look inwards, look at the leakages.
“Like I told the Local Government Union leaders, if anything is going wrong with the finances, the leaders are supposed to point it out. I have never received a petition from the Union leaders saying anything was going wrong, if there was fraud they were watching it,
“So when you asked for autonomy and we granted autonomy, that autonomy carries with it responsibility. You earn, you spend, you meet your obligations, whether these obligations are salaries or they are projects, whatever they are. So Edfo State government is not owing any Local Government worker and Edo State Government will not and cannot responsibility to pay Local Government workers when Local Governments are in full control, they have full financial autonomy and full project autonomy.
“I need you to understand that the pay day is sacrosanct. I need you to reassure your union, NULGE, to collaborate with you to eliminate any fraud in the slary administration.”
Speaking on behalf of the Local Government chiefs, Mr Tom Ebhotemen, Head of Service of Akoko Edo Local Government Area said the “we are aware that the state government does not take any kobo from our allocation. The problem is that the allocation has dropped, we have been paying teachers’ salary and we have also been paying our own workers’ salaries. We have been doing projects before as well as paying salaries. The problem is that the allocation dropped sharply. Any body who says the state government tinkers with our money is lying.
“NULGE is aware of the fact the state government does not touch our money, they are also aware of the drop in allocation, all they ask is for us to alternate the payment of primary school teachers and their members, such that if we pay primary school teachers fully this month, we should pay NULGE members fully the next month.”
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