The Bayelsa State Government on Thursday described the impression that it was owing workers between 10 and 16 months’ salary backlog as inaccurate.
It insisted that outstanding obligation to its workforce was four-and-a-half months.
The state government clarified the status of indebtedness to labour in a statement issued by the commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.
According to Mr Iworiso-Markson, the arrears of four and half months accumulated in 2016 due to a sharp drop in the revenue profile of the state, adding that following improvements in receipts from the federation account, the state has no outstanding salary in 2017 fiscal year.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that council workers across the eight local government areas, including primary school teachers, are being owed between 10 and 16 months salary backlog.
The deputy governor of the state, John Jonah, had on November 7 announced that the state government withheld the October 2017 salary of some 4, 200 workers in the local government system accused of involvement in payroll fraud.
Messrs. John Ndiomu and Tari Dounana, chairmen of Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, respectively, had challenged the state government to provide evidence for its action and prosecute those indicted as the unions would not support illegality.
The Bayelsa State Government further said that it had nothing to do with the salary backlog in the councils as the local governments in Bayelsa enjoyed financial autonomy.
“As a matter of state policy, the Seriake Dickson administration does not tamper with local government allocations. This fact must be stressed because of the falsehood being peddled in some quarters that the state is owing local government workers.
“It is public knowledge that government is waging a war against an endemic payroll fraud in the civil service in Bayelsa.”