The Uyo council workers are on strike.
The Chairman of Uyo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State, Ekerete Ekpenyong, on Thursday gave reasons why workers in the council have not been paid for three months.
Mr. Ekpenyong said dwindling allocation to the local government from the federal government has made it impossible for the council to pay its workers.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to increase allocations to local governments in the country.
Mr. Ekpenyong made the appeal in Uyo in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria while reacting to the strike action embarked upon by the council staff.
The council workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), had started the strike on Wednesday to protest the non-payment of their salaries since August.
The angry workers had barricaded the entrance to the council secretariat and also planted plantain trees by the gates.
Mr. Ekpenyong however said the monthly allocation accruing to the local government from the federation account had dwindled since July.
“We cannot meet our obligations to the staff as we cannot pay salaries and allowances. We are now accumulating the subventions of three months to pay the wage bill for one month,’’ he said.
Though the Uyo council chairman declined to mention his council’s monthly allocation, it was gathered that the local government got only N17 million in October.
It was also gathered that this was N103 million less than the N120 million expected as federal allocation.
Mr. Ekpenyong alleged that the Federal Government was still using the standard applicable 10 years ago for release of funds to local governments.
He said Uyo, as a local government area hosting the state capital, had more problems than the other 30 LGAs in the state.
“We have an over-bloated population in Uyo. We have more health officers and primary school teachers than the other LGs,’’ the council chairman said.
He appealed for special grants for local governments hosting state capitals.
Mr. Ekpenyong said the Uyo was also paying village heads and paramount rulers, as well as pensions for retired teachers and NULGE members, apart from the payment of council staff.
“We can’t borrow so much, because we don’t want to leave a debt burden for incoming council authorities,’’ he said.
The Uyo chairman, however, said he was working hard to see how the council workers would be paid in the shortest possible time.
Meanwhile, the strike action entered its second day at the Uyo LG secretariat on Thursday, with the plantain tress still there at the secretariat’s gates.
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