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TUC, Cross River governor’s aide disagree over bailout funds

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Clarkson Otu

Enugu recovers N21 million from ghost-workers in three months
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Cross River State has accused the state government of misappropriating the N19 billion meant for the settlement of gratuities, salaries and other labour-related matters in the state.

Chairman of TUC in the state, Mr. Clarkson Otu, who spoke in a telephone interview at the weekend, said: “Both the bailout funds they got and the two tranches of the Paris Club refund have not been deployed for the purposes they were meant. Particularly, the first tranche they got of about N11.3 billion, I can tell you that they have used just about N1.1 billion to pay part of 2013 gratuities.

“As I speak with you, gratuities for 2013 are still pending. They paid some and after exhausting the N1.1 billion, they stopped.

“Then, the second tranche of the Paris Club refund came to about N6 billion. As I speak with you, not one kobo has been deployed for any purpose to my knowledge. But when they got that money, they quickly went on air that they were going to use it to offset 2014 gratuity. Not one person has been paid.

“My advice to the government is that we had an understanding to do those things we had agreed upon. We are under tremendous pressure. We would not continue to wait and wait when nothing is being done. You have got money. So, what are you waiting for?”

In his reaction, Chief Press Secretary and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr. Christian Ita, said: “The government inherited gratuity right from Donald Duke’s (former governor) time totalling over N20 billion and we have paid up to 2015 and for the salaries of local councils’ workers, nobody is owing salaries. All those things are in the past.”

On the allegation that the state only spent N1.1 billion of all the monies received from the Federal Government to settle labour matters, he said: “I don’t know who you spoke with but I know it is not true.”

He further referred The Guardian to the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, for further comments.

However, the Information Commissioner declined to pick calls or reply to a text message sent to her phone number as at the time of filling this report.

In another development, Enugu State government at the weekend said it had made another breakthrough in its on-going efforts to rid the state public service of ghost workers, saying it recovered about N21 million from ghost teachers in its Post-Primary School Board (PPSMB) within three months.

It promised to conduct further inquiries that would identify possible members of the syndicate behind the scam in the board.

It also said the government had decided to offer automatic employment to 50 physically-challenged indigenes of the state to give them a new lease of life.

The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe, who disclosed the development while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the State Executive Council meeting, further said that it was the chairman of the PPSMB, Mr. Nestor Ezeme, who offered information on the ghost-teachers while briefing the council.

Anikwe said the council regretted the fraud, which took place at the PPSMB just within three months.



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