Group gives Okowa 7 days to pay council workers or face litigation
THE Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP) has given Governor Ifeanyi Okowa seven days ultimatum to offset the 13-month salary arrears owed local government workers or face litigation.
Oghenejabor Ikimi, executive director of the group gave the warning on Saturday in a statement signed and made available to journalists in Warri.
“CENTREP hereby gives the Delta State Government 7 (seven) days notice to defray all the monies owed Council Workers in the State, failure of which we shall not hesitate to slam a public interest suit against the Delta State Government enforcing the Fundamental Rights of Council Workers across the 25 Local Government Council Areas in the State under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) without further notice,” he warned.
The human rights crusader described as inhuman and cruel for an oil rich state like Delta to plunge its council workers in hunger and privation.
He called for a constitutional amendment to the 1999 constitution to reposition local government as autonomous of the state government.
This, according to him, would engender independence and development in the third-tier government, adding that Okowa should use the Paris fund of about N150bn to offset the salary arrears of the council workers.
“The attention of members of the centre for the vulnerable and the underprivileged, (centrep) have been drawn to the plight of Council Workers across the 25 Local Government Council Areas of Delta State whom the State Government presently owes 13 months salary arrears, and we condemn same as crime against humanity.
“We are not oblivious of the fact that monthly allocations from the Federation Account to States and Local Government Council Areas nationwide are paid into a State and Local Government Council Joint Account, thus depriving the Local Government Councils nationwide full autonomy to run their affairs independent of their various State Governments.
“The above scenario no doubt has underdeveloped Council Areas and impoverished the third tier of Government in no small measure as State Governments easily divert funds meant for their Council Areas to other use.
It is on the basis of the above development we call for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make the third tier of the Government autonomous in the long run, while we call on the Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa to immediately use part of the over 150 billion naira Paris Fund refund money to defray the 13 months salary arrears of Council workers across the 25 Local Government Council Areas of the State, as we believe that nonpayment of 13 months salary arrears of Council workers is an invitation to hunger and starvation.
Hunger and starvation, no doubt, are twin threat to the right to life of the average Nigerian worker who toils night and day to etch out a living for himself and his family.
Under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the Fundamental Rights of the average Nigerian worker to life is guaranteed, and we shall not hesitate to enforce same in any Law Court within the Nigerian Federation, Ikimi warned.
It will be recalled that in the past few weeks workers from the 25 local government areas of the state have embarked on series of protests to call the attention of the state government to resolve their plight.