*Plans protests, court action
*We have had enough lies from the government
Workers in the 16 Local Government Areas of Kwara State may be set for another fierce battle with the State government over the alleged diversion of N85.9billion of their funds from 2006 till date.
According to investigations conducted by www.gongnews.net our sources insisted that the amount covered the sum of N31.7billion the State collected for Local Governments in 2006; N18.066billion collected in 2009 and N273million in 2016 as refunds from the London/Paris Club of Creditors as well as the sum of N35.2billion illegally deducted from the Local Government federal allocations to pay Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers salaries since 2009.
All the refund collections were alleged to have been done when the State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is now six years old in office as governor now, was serving as the Finance Commissioner and later Economic Planning Commissioner respectively.
The monies in question were said to represent 41.06% of the total sum of N121billion due to both the Local Governments and the State which the State government had collected as refunds from the London/Paris Club so far and yet, bluntly refused to remit to the local councils ever since.
According to our source, “the council workers were pressing it on their union, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to take decisive action now because according they had been pushed to the wall after “series of unfulfilled promises by the state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed”.
Also, the workers were said to be angry with “concorted lies being dished out by officials of the state government, particularly, the media aides to the governor who would go on air to say government had paid workers which were never paid at all or where paid, it will be in pitiable percentages aside owing them in the arrears of not less than eight months”.
www.gongnews.net sources asserted that the allocation for January 2017 for instance was N1.174billion out of which N900million was taken by government for the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) leaving serving workers with only N272million as against N542million and another N262millions they needed for payment of the dues to pensioners.
They complained that even with the gross low allocation to the councils in January, unspecified millions of Naira were still withheld by the state government which was claimed to be instructed by the governor to offset debts even when the same government was withholding N273million last December for no convincing reasons.
The pittance given to the 16 Local Governments according to the sources left them to go home with different percentages of their salaries namely: Asa-58%; Baruten-58%; Edu-61%; Ekiti-61%; Ifelodun-45%; Ilorin East-34% and Ilorin South Local Government-36% of their salaries.
Others include Ilorin West-38%; Irepodun-58%; Isin-77%; Kaiama-100%; Moro-51%; Offa-73%; Oke Ero-61%; Oyun-77% and Pategi Local Government-90% of their salaries.
Meanwhile, the workers are planning protest rallies separately in the 16 Local Government Areas. They are expected to converge later in the State capital and hold a mega protest rally which their counterparts from Niger, Kogi, FCT, Plateau, Nassarawa, Kogi and Benue States would join.
Speaking to www.gongnews.net on phone on the veracity of the plan, Comrade Afolabi Abayomi, who is the State Secretary of NULGE said “the stories of illegal deductions from Local Government funds and Federal Allocations are very true. The figures quoted too are correct. Governor Ahmed had sadly reneged on his many promises to reverse the trends.
“For instance, the Commissioner for Finance is forced on us to preside over the sharing of our monthly federal allocations, his Permanent Secretary is the Secretary plus all other officers of the state government even from the Government House. We were only allowed to be part of it lately and even then, we were made mere spectators in our own game.
“Yes, states from the North Central zone will be holding a mega protest rally here in Kwara to protest among other issues on the States’ interference in LG finances; LG autonomy, diversion of funds and arrears of salaries.
“Kwara State is picked as the pilot spot for the protests because ours is about the worst in the federation where Local Government administration has been hijacked by the state government with impunity. We will hold our State Executive Council (SEC) meeting in a few days time and finalise our plans including a possible court action and petitions to necessary agencies of government.”