The Enugu State government has refuted allegation that it was owing public sector workers arrears of salaries.
Refuting the claim in press statement, the state’s commissioner for information, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe, said: “Our attention has been drawn to claims by two national newspapers last week that Enugu State government is owing salaries and arrears of salaries to its workers.”
He explained that the claim was based on an erroneous report published by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) which listed Enugu as one of the states yet to utilize their share of the second tranche of the London and Paris Club loan refunds.
“The newspapers appeared to have concluded that since the state is yet to utilize its second tranche and since the federal government had asked that a lion share of the refund be used to offset salary and pension arrears, Enugu State must therefore be owing salary and pension arrears.
“We regret this unfortunate conclusion which could have been avoided with a little fact-checking,” he said, adding that no civil servant in the state is being owed any sum either as salaries or arrears of salaries since Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s inauguration.
He explained that Enugu State public workers’ salaries used to be paid on the 25th day of each month, noting that the situation further changed for the better three months ago when Governor Ugwuanyi directed the accountant-general to move the payday for civil servants forward. This has resulted in the payment of their salaries on the 23rd, he said.
“It must be pointed out that Enugu State sits fifth from the bottom of the table on share of monthly federal allocations. However, through prudent management of its resources and an aggressive IGR drive, the Governor Ugwuanyi administration has been able to fully discharge its obligations to workers and still embark on massive projects to promote its agenda of employment generation, development of the rural areas, provision and maintenance of social services, and management of security and peace,” he said.
According to him, Enugu had yet to utilize its share of the second tranche of the refunds because the state does not have a pressing need to immediately utilize the funds, given that it is not indebted in any way to her workers and pensioners.
“What the state does each time it receives her share of the refunds is to immediately call for a meeting of the stakeholders – the two labour unions (NLC and TUC), representatives of pensioners, leaders of traditional institutions and community based associations, and development experts – to decide how best to utilize the refund.
It is also at this meeting that a sharing formula is established between the state and local government councils.
“The portion reserved for salary and pensions payments is kept aside and used to pay workers and pensioners as and when due,” he disclosed, adding that the governor ought to get plaudits for such transparency and prudence rather than be visited with unverified and false stories.