By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa – The Bayelsa Government and its workforce have disagreed on the exact outstanding salary arrears owed civil servants in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that workers claimed that they were being owed six months salary backlog, while government officials put the arrears at three months.
The Bayelsa House of Assembly on Tuesday, in a closed-door session, approved a N3 billion loan request from the executive arm to purchase cars for legislators and security agencies.
The development attracted criticisms from civil servants in the state, who said that seeking a loan to purchase the cars at a time the state government owed workers six months salary arrears was insensitive.
Reacting to the development, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Seriake Dickson denied in a statement that the government was owing workers for six months.
According to him, the government is owing workers only three months salaries.
The statement restated the governor’s commitment to running a transparent system, where the welfare of workers and the citizenry remains a priority.
“It is therefore not true that government is owing six months salary of workers, as alleged in some of the media reports.
“Rather, government is making conscious efforts to clear all outstanding salaries and has even gone ahead to pay in full, the salary for the month of January,” Iworiso-Markson said.
However, labour leaders and civil servants maintained that the government was yet to clear a backlog of the six months salary arrears being owed the state workers.
Chairman of Bayelsa chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Tari Dounana and his Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) counterpart, John Ndiomu, insisted that the government is owing the workers six months salary.
Dounana said, “The facts are there and we cannot be lying on issues like this, I can be quoted on this.
“Workers are having salary arrears of six months and we met with government on this issue only last week.
“It is likely that those claiming that we are not being owed do not have the details, we met with the government finance team and they set up a committee to work out the payment plan,” Dounana said.
A civil servant, Ebi Douye provided further details on the salary situation in Bayelsa.
“The arrears is six months, we are keeping records, January 2015 salary was paid full in April 2015. February and March 2015 salaries were not paid.
“From April to September, half salaries were paid. December salary has not been paid.
“The three full salaries not yet paid, plus half of the six months makes it six months of unpaid salaries,” Douye said.