The Patriotic Citizens of Nigeria (PACON), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), has urged the Bayelsa Government to use its share of the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds to settle backlogs of salaries.
PACON also called on the government to promptly release the local government`s share of the fund to also enable them pay the backlogs of salaries ranging from six to 12 months.
The NGO gave the advice in a statement signed by Messrs Aluzu Augustine and Powedei Arch, who are the Convener and Co-Convener of the NGO, in Yenagoa on Friday.
It noted that the state government had been constantly hiding under the economic recession to deny workers their wages and pay them half salaries.
“It is worrisome that only Bayelsa State government is backward in terms of salary payment compared to her counterparts in the South-south region, despite her huge resources and allocations.
“It is on record that the N14.5 billion that came into the state some months ago as a result of the first disbursement of the Paris Club refunds could not be effectively and convincingly accounted for by the state government.
“We urge the government to put on a human face and pay all salary arrears in other to alleviate the untold hardship presently militating against workers and indeed inhabitants of the state, ”the group stated.
The Bayelsa government and its workforce held divergent views on the current salary arrears.
While Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Seriake Dickson had put the arrears at three months, the state chapters of the Trade Union Congress, (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), said that workers were owed six months salary.
Mr Tari Dounana, Chairman, TUC and and his NLC counterpart, Mr John Ndiomu, told NAN that “the facts are there and we cannot be lying on issues like this.
“We can be quoted on this, workers are having salary arrears of six months and we met with government on this issue only last week.
“It is likely that those claiming that we are not being owed do not have the details, we met with the government finance team and they resolved to set up a committee to work out the payment plan, “the union chairmen said.