Former local government councillors from 274 wards in Niger state have protested the non-payment of their N1.27bn severance package. The ex-councillors disrupted activities at the Abdulkareem Lafene Secretariat in Minna the Niger state capital after locking the main gate and disallowing workers from gaining entry into the premises.
The councillors, who served between 2016 and 2019, in a 10-points demand contained in their placards, which were pasted at the entrance of the secretariat gate, sought the payment of their furniture and severance allowances.
According to them, due to the inability of the government to pay them the allowances, most of them are in prison as a result of debts, while others claimed that they have been thrown out of their houses due to their inability to pay house rents.
The councillors, in their placards, threatened not to open the gate until Governor Abubakar Sani Bello came to address them. The leader of the protesters, Mallam Garba Umar, said the former councillors were being owed over N4.6m each since 2019 but the government had refused to pay them.
He said, “We tried all efforts to ensure that our entitlements are paid but to no avail. We equally met the Commissioner of Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mallam Abdulmalik Daji, on several occasions, but all ended up with promises.”
Reacting to this development, the commissioner admitted that the former local government councillors were being owed some allowances and added that the inability of the government to pay the allowances was not deliberate.
He attributed the delay in the payment of these allowances to the shortfall from the Federation Account Allocation occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic which had made it impossible for the government at all levels to meet its financial obligations.
“They need to be patient and show some understanding with the government, and as soon as things improve, and we can pay salaries comfortably, nothing will stop us from the payment of their outstanding allowances. We will surely look into their demands,” Daji stated.
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