By Atavure Princess,
The Delta State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari; over the recent loan package of N28 billion offered to 35 states of the federation to enable them pay workers during this Christmas season.
The party noted that Delta State is entitled to N800million of the loan, and it was on account of this loan that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa approved N800 million to reduce the salary burden of Local Government Council workers in the state.
In a press release signed by Prophet Jones Ode Erue, the Delta state chairman of APC, he said the payment will bring relief to the families of Delta Council workers who have suffered extreme neglect for too long.
According to him, they are however appalled by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s attempt to take credit for it, adding that Okowa should learn to reap where he sows and not been crafty.
He stressed that it was President Buhari’s decision to make 2017 Christmas season better for workers by approval of N28bn to pay salaries that has now brought a smile on the faces of many Civil Servants. Therefore the credit for this relief should rightly go to the APC federal government.
Okowa had declared during a recent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign rally for local government elections at Ozoro, Isoko North and Oleh, Isoko South LGAs that his administration is not owing workers.
Erue stated further that Okowa’s saying that “we feel the pains of our brothers and sisters in the local government council” is a mere pretense to mislead Deltans that he cares for workers. “Deltans are aware that Okowa was only forced to pay up now because of the forthcoming Council elections.
“The truth remains that Okowa does not feel the pain of workers. If he did he would have long approved payment to them just as President Buhari did when he gave bailout to all the States to pay workers salaries a few months after he was sworn in, at a time when federal government revenue was even on the decline.
“Now that Delta State allocation has improved tremendously, we would have expected Okowa to release more than N800 million, being the exact equivalent of the loan that the Federal government approved.
“We are all witnesses to recent protests by retirees in Delta State to the state’s House of Assembly and Government House to pour out their grievances under the umbrella of the Association of Retired Local Government Staff and Primary School Teachers where they criticized Gov. Okowa of insensitivity and non-payment of entitlements owed them since 2013, and on the misuse of President Buhari’s bailout funds and the Paris Club refunds received by the State.
“President Buhari has from 2015 till date released over N2 trillion to the states as a direct response of his desire to ease the pressure on the finances of states and their inability to meet up with payment of workers’ salaries and pension commitments.
“Delta State share of these releases were very substantial but Governor Okowa did not hearken to the pain and cries of the workers. Rather, in the usual crafty manner, he kept advancing a vain and heartless argument that the State Government was not responsible for Local Government staff salaries, retired LGA workers and primary school teachers.
“If we go by his own argument, then he ought to have refused to accept the bail-out funds released to the State by the federal government, on the basis that the federal government is also not responsible for the salaries and pensions of Delta State civil servants? If he felt a tinge of pain for the workers he would have made adequate provision to clear most, if not all the backlog of Council salaries and pensions.
“If Okowa feels the pain of workers, we advise him to borrow a leaf from President Buhari’s honest commitment to workers. We salute the President’s plan to take over the payment of pensions to thousands of Delta Steel Company (DSC) and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) retirees that has been suspended for more than 10 years.” The statement added.