• Panel Is To Ensure Transparency, Involve Stakeholders
Concerned Benue workers have expressed fears over the setting up of committee for the disbursement of N14.9 billion Paris Club Refund accruing to the state, noting that similar exercises in the past ended up in a sham.
Some of the workers who spoke with The Guardian on the ground of anonymity said, previous committees set up to handle salary issues in the state ended up pilfering the funds to the detriment of the workers.
According to one of them, “we are particularly worried why the deputy Governor, Benson Abounu must chair such committee. The last time he presided over the committee, people who have served the state for about twenty years were declared ghost workers. His name in that committee is quite scaring to us.”
But reacting to the concern, the state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Godwin Anya supports the idea, hoping that it will ensure prompt disbursement of the fund to offset the backlog salary arrears.
According to Anya, “government has the biggest problem of salary arrears and my candid advice is that it should use the whole money for salaries and pensions instead of dedicating only 80 per cent for salaries and pensions.
“At our level, we have communicated our position through writing, that the committee should look into how the money be disbursed accurately to avert unnecessary delay.”
He also advised that with the improvement of Federal Allocation to the state, government should act fast and begin the payment of salaries.
However, in a swift reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Mr Terver Akase said, setting up of a committee for the disbursement of the Paris Club refund is to ensure transparency and carry along all stakeholders in the process.
He maintained that the Governor’s decision to include the Benue State chapters of Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, as well Nigerian Union of Pensioners was in compliance with the present administration’s policy of involving workers of the state in all matters affecting them.