Bayelsa Govt, NLC Squabble over Unpaid Salaries, Debt Burden

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By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday disagreed over salaries owed workers in the state and the state’s exposure to debts.

The National Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba had yesterday in an interview granted a national newspaper named Bayelsa as one of the most indebted states.

 He said: “You can see that the problem has nothing to do with the quantum of resources available to them. Some are receiving so much, like Bayelsa, but have not been able to pay because it is not their priority. Some have also over-borrowed which has affected their revenue.

“…It is the same scenario with Bayelsa. They have liability of between five and 12 months. I am aware that local government workers in the state have just resumed the action they suspended and we’re putting that on our priority list”.

 However, the Bayelsa State Government on Sunday faulted the claim that the state government owed civil servants backlog of salaries, describing the Labour leader’s assertion as “misleading and smacking of mischief.”

Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, in a statement in Yenagoa, stated that the report was “done in bad faith because it lacked substance as it did not reflect the true position of things in the state.”

The commissioner explained that Bayelsa State Government, contrary to the report, remained one of the least indebted states in terms of salary arrears to its workers in the country.

He said the administration had always fulfilled its salary obligations until recently, occasioned by the free fall in the state’s monthly allocation from the federal government.

Iworiso-Markson said government had to borrow a number of times to make up the shortfall to ensure that salaries were paid, but added that borrowing to pay salaries was not sustainable.

 “As at now, the government is not owing salaries of its workers in the civil service as we have kept faith with payment since beginning of the year till date”, he stated.

 He, however, observed that the situation was a national challenge, insisting that the Federal Government was also finding it difficult to meet its salary obligation to its workforce.