Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 4 November 2015 | 8,433 times
A commissioner-nominee yesterday told the Abia State House of Assembly of how a civil servant on Grade Level 3 with a monthly wage of N22,000 was earning the salary of a Director.
Mr Obinna Oriaku, a Senior Special Adviser to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Economic Affairs, made the startling revelation at the beginning of screening of the commissioner nominees. He said the criminal act was perfected through the act of salary padding which enabled the junior officer to be receiving the salary of a Grade Level 16, step 8, officer. He neither mentioned the salary nor how long the practice has been going on. However, it was gathered that a Director earns more than N100,000 monthly
The Commissioner nominee equally attributed mounting arrears of salaries owed staff of the local governments in the state to fiscal indiscipline, describing the monthly wage bill of the local governments staff of N900 million as unsustainable.
Oriaku, the 5th commissioner-nominee who appeared on the floor of the Assembly by 1:34 pm, regaled the lawmakers with stories of serious financial leakages in the financial system of the state which have made it impossible to pay Abia civil servants on the 25th of every month as promised by the governor during his inauguration.
He enumerated the areas through which leakages occur to include salary padding, ghost workers syndrome, lack of payroll system database and manual collection of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
He explained that the Officer with padded salary was discovered in the ongoing biometric verification of civil servants in the state.
Oriaku said their findings about the officer have been sent to the Head of Service for his comments.
He said that the officer would be made to face the full weight of the law to serve as a deterrent to others, adding that biometric experts have been engaged to develop a seamless payroll system that would be anti-padding.
He also explained why payment of local government staff in Abia has remained an issue, saying that their monthly wage bill of N900 million was not sustainable given the state's monthly income which hovers between N2.5 billion and N3.5 billion.
He also pointed out that statutory monthly payments including N10 million to the Local Government Service Commission, N8 million to the Auditor-General of the Local Governments, and N1 million to each of the Education Secretaries needed to be reviewed downwards so as to save funds for other projects.
He said the Economic team has by fiat, reduced some of these payments and urged the Assembly to give their actions legal backing since payment of salaries was not the only function of government.
“We need political will to take decisions that will see the state out of financial crisis,” Oriaku said.
Aside from Oriaku, nine other nominees, including Rt. Hon. Uzo Azubuike, Eziuche Ubani, Osita Igbe and Chief Charles Obioha Ogbonnaya.
Others are Mrs Chinedu Brown, Barr. Haggler Okorie, Barr. Nnenna Obewu-Onwuka, Barr. Uche Ihediwa and Dr. John Ahukanna.
The screening continues today.
•Photo shows Abia Tower.
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