Pay Abia Workers in 30 Days, Or Else, CSO Issues An Ultimatum

* Ikpeazu

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu's administration Sunday was given an ultimatum by a civil society organisation, Abians for Good Governance, AGG  to pay Abia workers and pensioners their salary arrears or be ready to face the wrath of Abians.

In the open letter to the government signed by  AGG covener, Obinna Don Norman, describing the Ikpeazu administration  as an evil government, stated  ''We can no longer watch your government continue to display this gross insensitivity towards the plight of our dying workers and frail pensioners'', thus the motive to storm Government House after the expiration of the 30 days ultimatum.

Excerpts the letter reads:  We read with utmost discontent the disgusting press release by the Abia State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Obinna Oriaku under the headline: Our Position on Parastatals Salary Issues, wherein, he callously tried to justify the malicious non-payment of salaries and pensions with nauseating excuses quoted with monotonous regularity without consideration for the workers’/pensioners susceptibilities.
Without prevarication, let's quickly draw the attention of Mr Oriaku to the breakdown of the 2018 budget he made to the Abia State House of Assembly.

The 2018 Abia State budget outlay of N140.9 billion known as the budget of “partnerships and opportunities" was made up of a Recurrent Expenditure of N68.4 billion (48.59%) and a Capital Expenditure of N72.4 billion (51.41%).

For proper understanding, Recurrent Expenditure consists mainly of expenditure on wages, salaries and supplements, purchases of goods and services and consumption of fixed capital. During the analysis, Oriaku gave the breakdown as follows:

• Personnel Costs (salaries/pensions) = N32.3 billion
• Overhead Costs (cost of running govt.) = N17.6 billion
• Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge      = N18.4 billion
• TOTAL                                                             = N68.4 billion

On the Capital Expenditure (money spent by the government on maintaining fixed assets, such as roads, lands, buildings, and equipment), Oriaku said funds from the transfer from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Capital Receipts would be used to finance it. He gave the breakdown thus:

• Transfer from Recurrent Revenue = N11.6 billion
• Grant from Donor Agencies               = N17.6 billion
• Internal Loans                                        = N43 billion
• Other Capital Receipts                        = N223 million
• Total Capital Expenditure                  = N72.4 billion

Oriaku said the sum of N97.9 billion expected from the Federation Account, FAAC, (N50.9 billion), IGR N29.1billion and Capital Receipts (VAT) N17.9 billion would be used to finance the budget.

However, records from the Ministry of Finance revealed that the Abia State government received the net sum of N88.7 billion FAAC Allocation against N50.9 billion it estimated in the 2018 budget; this made it N37.8 billion surpluses.
Instead of making himself an object of critical opprobrium and odium, Oriaku should explain to Abians how the government failed to pay the civil servants and pensioners despite their wages effectively captured in the Recurrent Expenditure of the 2018 budget.

Having no projects to justify the N72.4 billion Capital Expenditure that included an internal loan of N43 billion, how come civil servants/pensioners are owed between 15 to 25 months’ salaries/pensions?

Mr Oriaku, in line with accountability which is one of the cardinal principles of democracy can you tell us how effectively and judiciously your government implemented the 2018 budget with the embarrassing salaries/pensions backlogs? You cannot deny the fact that the Abia State government has received the net sum of N20.8 billion as FAAC Allocation accrued to the state and its 17 LGAs in the first quarter of 2019 (January to March). What then is the reason for the wicked starvation of Abians?

Eric Hoffer posits that “No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion; it is an evil government.”

It is what your government represents. We can no longer watch your government continue to display this gross insensitivity towards the plight of our dying workers and frail pensioners. We give you a one-month ultimatum to offset these backlogs or risk having us besiege the Government House Umuahia in protest until this statutory obligation is respected. Enough of this insensitivity!
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