Kogi State government and the state chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), on Sunday, denied buying cars with workers’ salaries for administrators and secretaries of the local government councils in the state.
The chairman of ALGON in the state, Taufiq Isa, said the allegation was baseless and false as the Ford Jeeps and Hilux vans distributed to local government officials were collected and guaranteed on loan from the company by the government.
A statement by the special adviser on Media and Strategy to the ALGON boss, Abubakar Hussain, said the allegations were deliberate attempt by the antagonists of the state to rubbish the good work embarked upon by the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello.
He also berated those behind the accusation trying to pull down the efforts of the government in providing easy vehicular movement for the newly appointed administrators and their members.
Meanwhile, the crisis between the Kogi State government and the organised labour in the state deepened on Sunday, as government described the proposed strike by the workers as an act of sabotage.
The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mohammed Imam, while addressing newsmen on the issue, said the strike would truncate the efforts of government at paying salaries.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), in the state ,had directed civil servants to commence strike with effect from Monday (today).
He said seven MDAs had not been paid because the correct grade levels of the workers were being verified.
He said, “The patience Kogi State workers have endured, should not be thrown away by accepting the strike . Please ,note that the action will truncate the ongoing efforts of payment of remaining seven MDAs, local government and pensioners.
“Government has the best interest of the civil servants and the entire Kogi State at heart. The screening exercise, which is the main cause of delay in the payments of salaries, is being carried out in order to eliminate the rot we have within the civil service. Those behind the proposed strike may be those benefitting from the series of illegal salary payments in the past that has crippled the state. Government is working round the clock to ensure that the remaining civil servants are paid soon
Imam said that Governor Yahaya Bello, was committed to the general wellbeing of all Kogi State indigenes, including civil servants, saying he was prepared to weed out ghost workers from the s tate, with a view to allowing workers get paid as at when due.
“For the love and passion that we have for the younger ones in schools, particularly, in Kogi State University, the state government wishes to use this medium to plead with the academic staff of the university to return to work, The ASUU strike affects not just the psyche of the student but also caused further stress to parents and ultimately, tarnishes the reputation of our great state. ASUU is reminded that they were the first to be paid even when government could assess only 40 per cent of the bailout funds requested.,
“We should all remain focused on the prize and remind ourselves that the screening exercise will create a lot of savings for the state. The money saved will be used in the prompt and complete payments of the genuine civil servants and also assist in the critical developmental areas identified.
These include the creation of world class public model schools, health institutions, development of small and medium enterprises and also rapid rural infrastructural development. Civil servants should think deep and join forces with the government in order to develop our dear State”.
“Instead of the critics to applaud the governor for the gesture to the former chairmen, they are busy blackmailing him, see the work ongoing in our roads, especially, the construction of Lokoja township roads, the adequate supply of water and the ongoing payment of salary arrears, why are they busy criticising the purchase of vehicles to our council administrators” he said.
In the same vein, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Edward Onoja, noted that the state government has not paid any money to the company.
According to him, the agreement reached between the state government and the company is to pay within 12 months after all salaries have been paid.