Taraba: Protesting Workers Seal State Secretariat over Unpaid Salaries

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• Ishaku presents N110bn budget
Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
The Taraba State secretariat complex was yesterday shut down by civil servants who were protesting against the non-payment and irregularities in the payment of salaries and pensions.
This is coming just as the state Governor, Darius Ishaku, disclosed that the government was not owing any state or local government worker in the state salary.

 The workers, under the aegies of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) and from the 16 local government areas of the state stormed the secretariat as early as 7a.m, led by the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Peter Gambo.

 The council had earlier on Wednesday issued a bulletin after its meeting held on Tuesday notifying the workers of the protest.

Addressing the workers at the gate of the secretariat, some of whom were carrying placards with varying inscriptions such as ‘salary is a right, not a privilege’, ‘one year of impunity and insensitivity must stop’, ‘Starter Point must go’ and ‘pensioners have right to dignified living, not humiliation from the government they served,’
Gambo decried what he referred to as government’s continued insensitivity to the plight of workers in the state.

He listed the contentious issues to include illegal deductions from salaries, non-payment of local government workers and teachers for eight months and subjection of workers to meaningless screenings and futile verification exercises.

Gambo equally alleged that union dues are deducted indiscriminately without remittance to the respective unions and without explanations by the government.

He said: “The government has shown that the welfare of workers in the state is not its priority. Workers have been subjected to all kinds of belittling treatments in the name of screening and verifications that have not yielded any fruits apart from subjecting workers to extreme hardship.

 “The Starter Point Consultant that was engaged to handle payment of salaries has proven to be very  incompetent in handling payment of salaries while the UBA has clearly shown that they are confused, all these must stop and stop now,” he stated.

Also addressing the protesters, the Head of Service (HOS) of the state, Mr. Samuel Angyu, said the government was aware of the complaints and is already putting measures in place to address their grievances.
The  HOS further called on the workers to call off the protest and make way for “peaceful and civilised discussions on the way forward.

But the governor, while presenting the 2017 budget estimates to the state House of Assembly, said no state or local government worker was being owed salaries.
Ishaku, who thanked the people of the state for the patience and  resilience they have shown in the outgoing year, said whoever was yet to receive salary in the state might be having problem with  his or her Bank Verification Number (BVN).

According to him, “I want to inform you that no state or local government worker in the state is being owed salary. Anyone who tells you he’s yet to receive salary must be having problems with BVN,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ishaku has presented a budget of N110, 168, 983, 942 to the state House of Assembly as recurrent and capital expenditure for 2017 fiscal year.
According to the governor, the sum of forty nine billion, three hundred and twenty five million, two hundred and eighty two thousand, nine hundred and thirty one naira representing 44.77 per cent was budgeted for recurrent expenditure, while the sum of sixty billion, eight hundred and forty three million, seven hundred and one thousand, eleven naira representing 55.23 per cent was budgeted for capital expenditure.
Ishaku noted that the budget was prepared with the mindset of addressing the factors inhibiting the rapid progress of the state to greatness.