• Tony Igele

Edo not Owing Pensioners, to Assist LGs

Edo government says it does not owe pensioners and workers, but has resolved to assist local governments to clear their indebtedness to workers and retirees.

Deputy Governor of Edo Philip Shaibu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin that there was misinformation about unpaid pension arrears in the state.

Indebtedness to pensioners, he said, was at the local government levels and not at the state government, he explained.

“We don’t owe pensioners at the state level. I think there are, really, mixed up on the issue of pensions.

“Here, we celebrate at the state and I am happy to say we do not owe salaries, we don’t owe pensioners. We pay pensioners before civil servants.

“You cannot say the same at the local government level. People do not seem to know the difference between the local government administration and the state government.’’

The local governments have their crisis, including non-payment of pensions and salary of workers.

“They have not been able to pay their pensioners and workers for some months.

“That is why Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo constituted a committee and asked me to head it to see how we can take the same technology that assisted the state to capture their internally generated fund into its account.

“Because until those internally generated funds get into their accounts, they will still have those problems,’’ he said.

Shaibu said the days of what he called reckless squandering of “Abuja hand-out by local governments were over because such seemed to have dropped minimally.

“And since everybody is looking inward, my governor asked that we assist councils to properly maximize their Internally Generated Revenue to their benefit,’’ he said.

He disclosed that the state government was still augmenting the local government councils in some areas of expenditure.

“But since bailout cannot continue to come, they need to take advantage of the environment to generate their own income.

“This is so because any local government councils, like the states that cannot sustain their bureaucracy from its own internally generated fund, are not viable to be local governments.

“Just like a company, you are not expected to borrow money to pay your workers, otherwise, you go bankrupt.

“Any state or local government that cannot generate and sustain its own fund to at least tackle its bureaucracy cannot survive,’’ Shuaibu said.

He also assured that councils in the state would be up and running very soon.

“Abuja money will just be for infrastructure. We already have a pilot programme which was successful in Ikpoba-Okha, Egor and Oredo local government areas.

“ And I can tell you if the successes recorded in the three local government areas are replicated in the remaining 15 local government areas, beginning from today, in a very short while they will be viable enough to pay their workers and pensioners.’’

On the agitation for the conduct of election at the local government level, Shaibu assured the people of Edo that the state government would do the needful soonest.

He said Obaseki’s administration would ensure that the institutional frameworks were deployed to herald the conduct of election of credible persons into political offices in the 18 local government areas of Edo.

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