By Dipo Olowookere
Some workers of Irepodun and Oke-Ero Local Government Areas of Kwara State on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest over seven months unpaid salary arrears.
Protesters at Irepodun area demonstrated at the council Secretariat, Omu-Aran at about 9:30am with placards of different inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs.
It was organised by the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in the local governments, was to demand the immediate payment of their outstanding salary.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “We are dying of hunger”, “We demand immediate payment of our seven-month’s salary arrears” and “Salary delayed is salary denied”.
Some officers of the Omu-Aran Police Division, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) accompanied the protesters to maintain law and order.
The workers had on two prevision occasions early in the year embarked on sit-at-home strikes over the same salary issues, but were prevailed upon to resume following the intervention of some eminent personalities in the state.
One of the workers at Irepodun Local Government told the News Agency of Nigeria on terms of anonymity that the development was very unfortunate and pathetic as it had negatively impacted on grassroots administration of the state.
He said: “The situation has become critical for most of the workers; it is very difficult for us to meet up with our domestic and parental responsibilities.”
Mr Femi Oladipo, Irepodun Local Government NULGE President, told newsmen that the workers among other demands want the state government to hands-off handling Federation allocations to the local governments.
He said the workers at a recent meeting passed a vote of no confidence on the Joint Account Allocation Committee setup by the state government for distributing Federal receipts to the 16-LGs.
Alhaji Luqman Owolewa, Irepodun Local Government Area Chairman, blamed the backlog of unpaid workers’ salaries on the persistent shortfall of allocations from the Federation Account.
Mr Owolewa said that the Local Government administration and the State Government under Abdulfatah Ahmed were working round the clock to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
“This problem has been on since the last administration due to dwindling allocation to the councils.”