The Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Cross River State Council, Comrade Edim Oyongha has said that the State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade who was in the past described as best labour friendly Governor by NLC was a disappointment.
He said the Governor has failed to utilize the Paris Fund for the purpose it was meant for.
Comrade Oyongha told DAILY POST in an interview in Calabar that the Paris Fund was specifically meant for payment of gratuity, unfortunately, the pensioners have remained for several years without payment.
“The Paris fund money was sent to Cross River State Government, just like it was sent to other states for a particular purpose of paying pensioners’ gratuity. Unfortunately, the pensioners have not been paid for some years now.
“If you remember, we were on strike sometime ago which we resumed on July 2nd. The reason for that strike was mainly because of the gratuity issue as we were told that federal government has sent in money for the payment.
“When we call off the strike, we had an agreement with the state government. They said they will implement and pay the gratuity, so far, we have waited for a while, about 3-4 months now, and nothing seems to be coming.
“We, as joint negotiating council first wrote to government about the non utilization of the fund for the purpose it was meant for, they called us for a meeting and we met with the head of service and other government officials, Finance Commissioner, Ministry of Justice, Accountant General etc and they gave us 4 days, that they will pay this gratuity, that was on the 12 August 2017, sadly, after two months, they have not paid.
Comrade Oyongha expressed regrets over Ayade’s administration, explaining that given the non release of the pensioners’ gratuity, NLC followed it up with a letter asking why the government didn’t pay.
“This culminated into another meeting with the deputy governor and in that meeting, they promised us, they will pay, as soon as the meeting ended, the next day, what we heard was that they were calling pensioners to come for screening.
“So we went to Accountant General and told him that, that was not what we discussed yesterday with the deputy governor, why are you calling for screening, what is the problem, they said there was fraud, we say oaky, in the very first instance, when they brought this Paris Club, we had a meeting with the Governor right inside his office, he said we should form a committee which we did, local government were there, commissioner for Finance, Head of Service etc and we all agreed for release of money, what happened”? he queried.
The Vice Chairman, who is also the Chairman of State Negotiating Council, said that Labour suggested to government that she should not pay gratuity through any bank.
“They didn’t take that, the next thing we heard was that, His Excellency has released N1.6billion to pay our pensioners including severing allowance for local government staff, we waited, we didn’t see anything.
“Disappointingly, we heard that His Excellency wanted to pay 20% of gratuity to retirees and Labour kicked against it because we can’t imagine people collecting 20%, not even half, we say they should not take that and that is where we are” he lamented.