Members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) Thursday protested alleged nonpayment of January salaries and allocations by the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), begging the FCT minister, Malam Musa Bello, for urgent intervention.
Carrying placards with inscriptions such, “FCT Minister, save area council staff from hunger, “Nonpayment of January salary,” “We want total release of statutory allocation for area councils,” “No salary, no work in area councils of FCT,” the members locked the entrance gate to the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Secretariat, preventing workers from accessing their offices.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the FCT NULGE President, Comrade Ibrahim Kabir, the AMAC NULGE Chairman, Comrade Hassan Haruna, who doubles as FCT ALGON NULGE chairman, said that the delay in payment of salary is avoidable and causing untold hardship to their families.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the January salaries of area council workers have not been paid. When we asked, we discovered that Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) was done and Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) took place on 3rd of February. What is remaining is the disbursement of our allocations. But up till now, we have not seen anything. We are now asking why, since the federal government has sent the money through JAAC. The remaining thing is to disburse to our area councils, but nothing has been done up till now.
“We sent signal last week Wednesday, during a press briefing at our state secretariat, giving 48-hour ultimatum that if nothing is done, we will embark on strike. Strike is our last option as union members. We have been patient. We were told to exercise patience that we will get our salaries after the FCT Area Council elections, which took place on Saturday last week. We waited till today before taking this action.
“We were mandated to shut down FCT area council offices. The six area councils and the LEAs are shut down. We are going to continue this strike until after our actual salaries and allocations have been fully paid. No salary, no work, because it is our right to get salaries as staff, not a privilege.
“In the 36 states of Nigeria, we have full autonomy in the FCT, so why is there a delay in payment of salary? Our salary should not be tampered with. They should come from the federal allocation down to our local government joint account. If not, we will not call off this strike.”
Also speaking, the Deputy President, FCT NULGE, Comrade David J. Iyah, said that the workers will continue to protest until the needful is done by concerned authorities, even if it means meeting the FCT minister.
He said: “We are asking for statutory payment of salaries. At a time, FCT said that gross salary should be sent to them. As a union, we said that we don’t want to go back to the days of old. We are forging ahead. Anything less than that, we will be forced to embark on industrial action. If nothing is done after the action today, we will have no other action than to go to the Minister’s office and block the gate. We must be paid our salaries. We are human beings with families to take care of. We have children.
“Just look at it, from December, we are now in January and nothing has been done. So, they should pay our salaries. The stakeholders should come and pay our salaries. We are not begging. It is not a privilege. It is the right of every worker to be paid his salary. That is why we ordered that offices in all the six area councils must be shut down until they listen to us. Pay us our salaries and we will come back to our work.”