The Abia State Government has said that the mounting salary arrears in government agencies and parastatals was caused by overstaffing, which started in previous administrations.
The government position was put forward by the state commissioner for information, Mr. Eze Chikamnayo at a press conference addressed by the media team of Abia Government. Unpaid salaries and pensions have become a major political issue in Abia with the opposition persistently putting the administration of Okezie Ikpeazu on the firingline over the plight of workers and pensioners. But Chikamnayo deflected the blame from Governor Ikpeazu, saying that the Abia chief executive was not responsjble for overpopulating agencies and parastatals with redundant staff over the years thereby making it difficult to pay salaries.
He also argued that the affected agencies and parastatals were, by the respective laws establishing them, expected to be self sustaining and not dependent on government for survival, adding that they have management teams and boards that pilot their affairs. Some of the agencies and parastatals affected by the unpaid salary bug include the Abia State UniversityTeaching Hospital, Aba (ABSUTH), shut down by workers over 22 months salary arrears, Abia State Polytechnic Aba, 31 months, Abia State College of Education Technical Arochukwu (ASCETA), 33 months, Health Management Board, 33 months, among others. The information commissioner said that the management of the state parastatals had over the years engaged in uncontrolled recruitment of staff usually for political experiences without considering the economic consequences. To drive home his argument, Chikamnayo cited the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) which he said has overbloated staff strength of 300 doing the work that less than 10 employees do effectively in private broadcast organisations. He stated that there was no way any parastatal could bear the burden of paying redundant workers and still stay afloat, hinting that there could be need to ease off redundant staffs in some parastatals and agencies.
Chikamnayo, who was recently appointed information commissioner for the third time since1999, said that critics of Governor Ikpeazu should understand that “there was no foundation” laid for the development of Abia at the inception of the present democratic dispensation. Accodring to him, it was SenatorTheodore Orji that “started doing something” when he was governor to lay some kind of foundation for Abia, adding that Ikpeazu remains focused and resolute and working sequentially to deliver on his promises to Ndi Abia. “Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is rebuilding Abia for posterity,” he asserted. In his remarks, the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka acknowledged that there were some “technical challenges” that, made Faults road Aba to fail, adding that the the mistakes had been indentified and would be corrected. While assuring that Faults road, which he described as one of the start projects of the Ikpeazu administration, would be properly reconstructed, Emamanka also assured that the Osisioma flyover would eventually be completed despite the long delay. “No matter how long it takes, Governor Ikpeazu will complete the Osisioma flyover and traffic interchange and it would go down in history that he is the first to build such infrastructure for Abia”. (THISDAY)