By; SAMSON YAKI, Lafia
The Government of Nasarawa State said it’s going to set aside funds meant for the payment of long awaited gratuity to retired civil servants in the state.
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule disclosed this while being presented with the report of the committee on the implementation of promotions and salary arrears in the state public service, at a ceremony at the Government House, on Wednesday.
Engineer Sule while also disclosing that for the first time, Nasarawa State has benefited from the World Bank special package for States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS), giving to states that are transparent, accountable and follow the due process, said a percentage of the grant will be set aside to pay gratuity of retirees.
The Governor said he earlier made a commitment to the effect that if the money is made available, his administration will set aside a special amount for the payment of gratuity of retirees workers who participated and helped towards developing the state.
“Certain amount of the money from the World Bank, will go for gratuity and I will keep to that commitment. I will make sure that a certain percentage of this money goes straight to pay gratuity,” he stated.
Speaking on the recommendations of the committee, Engineer Sule expressed willingness to offset the outstanding August 2016 salary arrears, to deserving civil servants in the state, out of fairness, justice and accountability.
According to the Governor, in order to be fair and just, there is need to pay outstanding August 2016 salary arrears to civil servants that were not paid as at when due, stressing however that the approval for the payment, will remain pending until another committee put in place to look into the issue of the new national minimum wage submits its report.
“I told you we are going to get a present from the World Bank. I’m happy to announce to you that just yesterday, we received the first tranche,” the Governor said.
He added that even though his administration accepted to whatever that was agreed by the committee on implementation of promotions and salary arrears, there is however need to await the resolution of the committee on the new national minimum wage before final approval is given.
While expressing concern that only the issue of the new national minimum wage remain unresolved, out of the commitments he made to the people of the state while being inaugurated into office, Engineer Sule appealed to members of the Committee on the New National Minimum Wage, chaired by the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, to expedite action and conclude its assignment.
The Governor used the opportunity of the event, to clear the air on the circumstances surrounding local government areas in the state.
He said at a time when it’s no longer expedient for local government areas In the state to merely await monthly subvention from the Federal Government, his administration was surprised that some officials within the local government system were not happy that the state government is trying to save N600m for the councils.
Engineer Sule explained that what the committee set up by the state government to scrutinize financial activities at the local government level, did was to uncover that in spite of an embargo against employment placed in 2012, with the biodata of every civil servant documented, still the payroll of the councils rose from N1.1bn to N1.3bn, even with resignations, retirements and deaths.
“At the end of the day, it came out that some of the officials were not even interested in the exercise, which will translate to those officials were more or less, benefiting from the system,” he stated. He further urged chairmen of local government areas in the state, to continue to think outside the box and not to solely depend on FAC or JAC, especially that Nasarawa State is blessed with great potentials.
Engineer Sule commended members of the committee on the implementation of promotions and salary arrears, for the wonderful job they undertook.
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Chief Philip Dada, said the committee was not able to submit its report within the stated period because of systemic challenges encountered during the course of its assignment, especially the absence of readily available data for use.
According to Chief Dada, the committee discovered the existence of one month salary arrears for the month of August 2016, while also indicating the financial implications of the outstanding salary arrears.