13 out of 25 Niger LGs cannot pick wage bills, says NULGE

.Accuses state govt of failing to remit 10% contribution to joint account
By Priscilla Campbell

At least 13 out of 25 local government councils in Niger State have no capacity to pay their wage bills due to the implementation of the National Finance Intelligent Unit (NFIU) on direct allocation to the grassroots areas in the country, the National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE) in the state has revealed.
The state union stated that the 13 councils that usually depended on the buoyant councils to "contribute" to bail out the financially deficient LGs, in the last three months struggled to pay their workers’ salaries.
The state chairman of NULGE, Alhaji Abdulkareem Lafene, who raised concern on the issue in Minna, attributed the challenge to the non-remittance of 10 percent by Niger State government of its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to the state and local government joint accounts for upwards of 10 years as provided for by law.
He said, "If you cannot contribute your 10 percent as required by law, then allow the money to be sent directly to the local government accounts."
Aside this, Lafene said the state government has 13 items in the statutory deductions from the allocation to the local governments some of which, do not have direct baring with the councils.
According to him, to remain afloat and pick all their bills, the affected LGs have now turned to obtaining bank facilities.
"These deductions have no baring with the LGs, yet they are being made to make these compulsory contributions and thereby depleting their income. And if, nothing is done to address it, the situation may get worst.
"The action of the government is a complete violation of the Statutory Act by the state house of assembly which established the state and local government joint account."
The councils are Chanchaga, Bida, Suleja, Kontagora, Mokwa, Paikoro, Shiroro, Lavun, Lapai, Agaie, Paikoro, Rijau, and Tafa.
Lafene frowned at the local governments still being made to contribute to the running of the state-owned Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU) Lapai when it is the sole responsibility of the state government.
He also stated, "Despite the five percent deduction for emirate councils, the local government councils still pay salaries of the traditional rulers, district heads and village heads. The payment of teachers’ salaries, when it should be the responsibility of local governments after the mandatory deductions made to the state Universal Basic Education Board among other deductions."

The state NULGE chairman further said though the direct allocation policy implementation has achieved close to 90% success in the state, he called on the NFIU to set up a monitoring committee that will go round the country to ensure strict adherence with the set guidelines.
Lafene added that stakeholders’ meeting to discuss on the implementation of the NFIU guidelines will hold in Keffi, Nasarawa State on the 4th of September and in Abuja on the 26th of the same month.

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