By Eseoghene Emuke
The Delta State chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Hon. Itiako Ikpokpo, says local government councils had not been able to implement the new minimum wage owing dwindling resources accruing to LGAs.
Ikpokpo lamented that Delta councils like their counterparts across the country are facing financial difficulties to commence implementation of the new wage.
He noted that though LGAs in the state are not averse to the implementation of the increment the current economy realities have made the payment of the new minimum wage to for local government workers and primary school teachers difficult.
The ALGON chairman, in a statement after an emergency meeting in Asaba, the state capital, following threat by local government workers to embark on strike, pleaded with the workers not to down tools over delay in the implementation of the new wage.
The leadership of the State Chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), primary school structures of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Non Academic Staff Union, (NASU) had threatened to commence strike December 1, 2020.
Ikpokpo, who is the chairman of Isoko South LGA, while pleading with the staff to shelve the planned strike, noted that payment of primary school teachers and local government workers is squarely the responsibility of the Local Governments and not the State Government.
He appealed to the workers to shelve the proposed strike action as ALGON is working assiduously on how to implement the new minimum wage.
“Payment of salaries of primary school teachers and Council staff rests squarely with the Local Governments and not the Delta State Government and it is on record that ALGON have held several consultative meetings and dialogue with the leadership of the workers on how to implement the minimum wage, the last being two weeks ago at the Unity Hall where we agreed to meet with His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa with representatives of NULGE, NUT, SUBEB, the Delta State Accountant General, State Directorate of Local Government and the Local Government Service Commission on how to find common ground on the issue.”
The Chairman noted that while the new minimum wage has been effected for Local Government workers on Grade Levels one to six, dwindling finances of Local Governments has hampered its implementation for workers above these levels.
“Local Governments in Delta State are not averse to full implementation of the new minimum wage. While it has been effected for workers at the lower rung of the service, (Grade levels one to six), financial difficulties faced by the Local Governments has hindered its implementation for staff on Grade Levels seven and above.”
He observed that Local Governments are presently faced with acute financial challenges and will not be able to shoulder full implementation of the new minimum wage except they borrow or pushed into staff retrenchment. He warned that both options are presently not in the best interest of the Councils. He stated that the Governor has specifically appealed against retrenchment of workers.
According to him, the State Presidents of NULGE and NUT attends the monthly Joint Account Allocation Committee JAAC and understand perfectly the financial condition of the Local Governments.
“While we appreciate the consideration and cooperation of the affected workers on the delay associated with the implementation of the minimum wage, we wish to earnestly appeal to them to show more understanding by shelving the proposed strike action as Government is working assiduously on how to find a way out of the pathetic situation.”
“We are committed in ensuring the implementation of the minimum wage across all Grade Levels in the Local Governments and Local Education Authorities, LEAs in no distant time when hopefully the finances of the Councils improve”, he assured.