Former Councillors Call Out Umahi Over Unpaid Severance Allowances
FORMER Councillors who served in the 13 Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, from 2017 to 2020 and 2020 to 2022, weekend staged a peaceful protest demanding the payment of their severance allowance from the present administration in the State.
The protest, which took place at the Joint Account Committee, JAC, office, Onwe road, Abakaliki, showcased the former Councillors in their numbers, carrying placards with various inscriptions, such as “Former Councillors are tired of writing letters since 2017” “Former Councillors of Ebonyi State are hungry, Governor Umahi hear our cry” SSA to the Governor stop blocking our severance allowances”
Commissioner for LG pay former Councillors severance allowance or resign” Governor Umahi’s approval is not Payment, we are tied of approval” “Say no to cabal that hijacked LG funds”.
Those said to be demanding their entitlements include: 342 former Councillors and 130 former supervisors that served from 2017 till date.
Addressing Journalists in front of JAC office in Abakaliki, Chairman, Ebonyi State former Councillors Forum, Nwugo-Chimereze Celestine who pledged total support for the present administration in the State, added that the Forum of former Councillors was no longer pleased as the directive given for the payment of their severance allowance by Governor David Umahi was yet to translate into real cash.
Celestine who lamented over the death of some former Councillors due to the non-payment of their severance allowance, wondered why the payment was being delayed, despite the public directive given on the matter by Governor Umahi.
“We are here to see the Commissioner for Local Government with respect to the non payment of our severance allowances
“Recall that his Excellency in his magnanimity approved the payment of our severance allowance on the 4th of September, 2022, when he announced publicly that directive has been given for all the former Councillors from 2015 to present be paid their severance allowance before the end of September.
“So, more than one month now, nothing has been done; no information. We have visited the Commissioner for LG countess of time but no attention has been given to us. We have written to the Governor, the Commissioner and Government officials many times but no response. We are saying that this severance allowance is our entitlement.
“We are saying that former Councillors in Ebonyi State are suffering. We are saying that some have died while some are doing nothing. And we are saying that we served this Government with all our efforts. We sacrificed alot.
“In 2019, during the gubernatorial election, most of us were asked to donate our one month salary to support his Excellency’s election and we did all that and the little thing that we are entitled to, Government has continuously denied us of it.
“We are not happy and that’s why we are crying. We came here this afternoon and there’s nobody to address us. The Commissioner is not in the office to address us. The Permanent secretary is in the office but he refused to come out and addressed us and we are not happy. We want his Excellency to hear our voice that former Councillors to this date have not been paid severance allowance.
“And they have been lieing to the Governor that they have paid. And we reach the Governor and he will say we have been paid. We want our voice to be heard that former Councillors from 2017 to 2020; 2020 to 2022 have not been paid severance allowance.
“We are calling on the Government of Ebonyi State to pay us our severance allowances. From 1999 to 2015 have all been paid their severance allowance, why will our own be an exception. We are calling on the Government to make the payment with immediate effect. We have waited enough and we want the Government to hear our voice.
“We want Ebonyi people to hear our voice. We want the President to hear our voice. It is our constitional right and it is enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended. We will continue to conduct ourselves as law-abiding citizens even as we have exhausted all the diplomatic approaches in this matter to ensure that this money is paid.
“We are pleading with this Government that they should not push us to the wall. There are options but we are in support of the Government. We trust that they can do the needful. Governor has made this promise countless number of times and we want him to fulfill this promise.”
Reacting to the protest, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hon. Donatus Njoku who described the development as the handwork of the enemies of the present administration called on the Councillors to address their complaint to the Chairmen of various LGAs in the State.
“The purported protest today, I will say, is the handiwork of the enemies of this adminstration. First and foremost they served at the Local Government level, the third tier of Government. State Government does not control what happens at the Local Government level.
“If they have not been paid, I think they should channel their complaint to the Local Government Area, where they served. When they were in service, were we paying their salaries and other allowances? Was it not their various LGAs that was paying them? I think the protest is a sponsored one.
“They came sometime and complained and as a supervsing Ministry, we told the various Chairmen of the LGAs of the need to pay them and many have commenced paying them. But if some of them are yet to be paid, I think coming to the Governor or Commissioner as friend, so that we can now ask the Chairmen to do that not us. We don’t pay their allowances. What on earth should make them come here. ” Ends