Angry Nigerlites, mostly Local Government workers, have protested the trip embarked upon by Chairmen of LGAs to Ghana for a one-week retreat.
This is coming barely two months after holding a retreat for appointed Commissioners and top functionaries in Kaduna State.
This however did not go down well with most people of the state who have taken to various means of protests, especially on social media, condemning the trip embarked upon by the chairmen with the inability of most of them to pay salaries of LGA workers.
Reacting to the claims, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mary Noel Berje, said the Council Chairmen are in Ghana, but that they were not there for a retreat.
Berje said: “The council Chairmen are in Ghana in furtherance to the state Governor’s earlier visit to Jonsang waste recycling company for effective waste management in the state and to ensure the success of the new approach to keeping the state clean, an approach in which the council chairmen are critical stakeholders.”
Berje added that the Accra-based recycling group of companies is expected to establish an outfit in the State to take care of waste sorting and organic waste composting plant, plastic recycling and waste bins manufacturing plant, tricycle assembling plant and the state-of-the-art liquid waste processing plant.
It should be recalled that a similar retreat was organized for the council Chairmen in Kaduna on January 12, two days after they were sworn in as Chairmen.
Also a retreat for Commissioners was held after they were inaugurated into office on January 10, 2020 in Kaduna State.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who described the previous retreat held in Kaduna as timely and informative, was widely criticised on social media by people of the state.
One social media user tagged the retreat a “jamboree” and waste of public resources.
In his reaction on the retreat, Aliyu Bulala said despite global and national warnings on Coronavirus spread, politicians in the state have not taken caution.
According to Bulala: “Why are they wasting public funds unnecessarily?
“Are there no good places in Niger State or the usual Kaduna State?
“Please don’t go and contract the virus and then put us all in a state of panic.
“In fact, when they arrive, they should be subjected to serious screening.”
Investigations have it that some local government workers condemned the trip wondering why the retreat could not be held in Nigeria.
They described it as “a waste of Public funds”.
Findings have it that most of the Local Government Chairmen could not pay the salaries of their staff in February, 2020 as our Correspondent can authoritatively confirm that workers in the health and education sectors in the local government areas have not received their February salaries.
The investigations have it that out of the 25 local government Chairmen who went on the retreat to Ghana, 13 of them cannot pay the salaries of their staff.
These local government councils that cannot pay workers’ salaries are Chanchaga, Bida, Suleja, Kontagora, Mokwa, Paikoro, Shiroro, Lavun, Lapai, Agaie, Paikoro, Rijau, and Tafa.
Further findings have it that the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had adopted a method of using the surplus from the other local government areas accounts to augment the allocation of the affected local government areas so as to to enable them pay their staff.
However, during the last meeting regarding the sharing formula from the federal allocation held before the trip to Ghana, there was a strong disagreement as the councils who could comfortably pay their staff vehemently refused to part with their surplus.
These councils were said to have told the Chairmen of the councils without adequate funds to reduce their workforce if they cannot pay, saying they are being cheated of what belongs to them.
The meeting ended in a deadlock as none of the buoyant local government councils agreed to share their surplus with the other councils.
The Ghana trip of the local government Chairmen was confirmed during the Niger State House of Assembly plenary by the member representing Suleja Constituency, Shuaibu Liman Iyah.
Iyah, who was responding to the motion moved by one of the legislators to call the Commissioner for the Environment to the House of Assembly to explain the reason why the state is not free of refuse, said the commissioner traveled alongside the 25 local government chairmen to Ghana.
He said: “As we are talking, some of us may not be aware, the Commissioner of Environment and the 25 local government Chairmen in Niger State are on their way to Ghana.
“They are going to Ghana to open windows for the state to partner with some companies outside the country, particularly in Ghana, and they also want to learn from them.”
The trip and the inability of the council chairmen to pay salaries have further enraged the public as they declared their displeasure over what they termed “wastage of government resources”.
One of the affected staff, who refused to give his name due to fear of being victimised, said the Chairmen had no focus and plan for the councils as they are busy wasting money traveling out instead of seeing to the welfare of their staff and paying their salaries.
The staff said: “This is unacceptable.
“Do these people know what they are in the office for?
“We are here dying.
“I cannot even feed my family and someone is taking the money meant to be used to pay my salary to travel for a retreat in Ghana.
“The other time, it was Kaduna.
“Now Kaduna and Nigeria have become too small for them so they have to travel to Ghana.
“What did they do with what they learned in the training in Kaduna?
“And now, they are going for another one in Ghana.
“These people do not have shame in any way.”
Another staff, who gave his name simply as Abdullahi, said: “What do you expect?
“When your principal jets out of the country as every single second, you will follow suit.
“They are simply following the step of the Governor who put them in power.
“Imagine not paying salary and then the next thing we hear is that they have packed themselves to Ghana.
“If this is not irresponsibility at its highest level, I wonder what else it is.”