... SAYS GOVT WON'T BE BLACKMAILED INTO DOING THE WRONG THING .
Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma, has directed that all pensioners in the state be immediately paid their March pension allowances but warned that his government will insist on paying salaries and Pensions only to those legitimately entitled to it and not to ghost workers or pensioners.
This was just as the Leadership of the Pensioners revealed that the use of Consultants by the sacked administration of Emeka Ihedioha was a conduit pipe for fraud and corruption .
The governor's directive came on Tuesday after a closed door meeting with the Leadership of the Pensioners association in the state
A statement yesterday by the commissioner for information and strategy, Declan Emelumba, explained that the governor made it clear to the Pensioners that the delay in the payment of March allowances was caused by the government's determination to flush out fraud from the system and not for lack of money
The commissioner said the government has saved over N300M in pension payments through detailed scrutiny of the pay roll which exposed a lot of lekages and ghost recipients in the system .
The chairman of the state association of Pensioners Dr. Josiah Ugochukwu, agreed with the governor that the use of a consultant for pension payments by the sacked administration of ihidioha was a conduit pipe for fraud. He said his association opposed it but the then government paid deaf ears, the statement added.
The commissioner said the government discovered that the use of a consultant was a ploy to defraud the state by opening avenues for questionable payments of over half a billion Naira to an external consultant who by law cannot be audited by the state Auditor General , adding that there was practically no role for a consultant in payment of Pensions
The governor sees pension money as blood money because it is money saved from the sweat of elder statesmen who sacrificed their youth to serve the state so he is determined to ensure that only those entitled to Pensions get paid, the statement further explained.
On the delay in the payment of March salaries to local government workers the commissioner said it was caused by an unusual bloating of the pay roll.
He explained that when the government took over office in January the Local government allocation was N3.8B from which N1.6B was left after payment of salaries and pensions. Surprisingly in February with the same allocation only N900M was left after payment of salaries and Pensions. How can this be explained when no new staff has been employed by the local governments, the statement asked
On questionable discrepancies in the wage bill of LGAs the Commissioner said that it was curious that some local governments with less staff were carrying a wage bills higher than those with more staff and asked " how can owerri municipal with highest number of workers be paying N15M as salaries while Ihete Unoma with less staff is paying N56M", adding that the government was determined to get things right from day one even at the risk of blackmail .
The information commissioner insisted that while the government was determined to pay workers and pensions at the end of the month it will not be blackmailed into doing the wrong thing.
"The governor has made it clear that he will pay salaries and Pensions by the end of every month but the payment will be made to only those legitimately entitled to same and not to criminals who present false BVN or false account details in the pay roll to reap off the state. Every salary and pension payments must conform with all e- payment requirements and this government will not be blackmailed into doing otherwise " the Commissioner said