Monday, 1 December 2014

Benue Workers May Down Tools Over Salary Arrears

By Joseph Wantu,
Source: Guardian

 LESS than six months to the end of Gabriel Suswam's tenure as Governor of Benue State, the civil servants are threatening to invoke a "no pay, no work" policy to force the payment of their four months salary arrears.

Some of the civil servants told The Guardian on the ground of anonymity that the situation has become unbearable, as they have continued to borrow to feed their families while their children risk dropping out of school over their parents' inability to pay their fees.

They complained that even as the state government has continued to complain of dwindling federal allocation, no capital project was being executed in the state, therefore, why could government not pay their salaries.

"As I am speaking to you, I have three of my children sent home from school because I could not afford their fees," the source said. "And here in the city, I have a family of six but we now rely on the sympathy of good neighbours to feed day after day. How to even go to the office is another challenge all together."

The source appealed to the governor to expedite action on clearing the backlog of their salaries to enable them take care of their families and justify their living.

"You journalists should help convey our plight to the governor. As you can see, it is four months now that I have not received any salary; others are being owed three months. Sometimes I trek to work and if you don't go to work here, they will issue you query, so what is happening in Benue is bad.

"I have been borrowing all this while from friends to sustain my family and you cannot be borrowing like that, only God knows what will happen to you if you are not able to pay back the debts."

However, The Guardian learnt that Suswam recently appealed to the civil servants to exercise some patience as government was working out modalities to settle the issue of salary arrears.

He attributed the development to the general economic crunch in the country, which he said was not peculiar to the state, and that if the situation persists, governance across the country might shut down to avoid embarrassment.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that apart from salary arrears to core civil servant, most tertiary institutions in Benue, including the College of Advanced and Professional Studies (CAPS), Colleges of Education Katsina-Ala and Oju, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and the Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture (AOCOA), Yandev, have also been on strike for over five months now due to non-payment of salaries and other entitlements.

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