ARMSTRONG ALLAHMAGANI, Bauchi –
Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, has disclosed that he inherited pension arrears of N27 billion from the administration of his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar.
The governor who disclosed this in his speech when he received the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, in Bauchi State, Rev. Joshua Maina who led the Christian community in the state to pay him the annual Christmas homage at the Goverment House late Friday evening.
He lamented the prevalence of ghost workers in the state saying that this has given him hiccups promising that the payroll must be sanitized.
He said: “We have the prevalence of ghost workers but we are working very hard to make sure we free resources in our personnel emoluments within the nominal roll that has been bastardized and full of fraud and we are doing our best.
“This is one area that is giving me hiccups to be able to make sure that labour has integrity, pensioners are getting their money as and when due and their retirement benefits.
“We inherited N27 billion retirement arrears from the previous administration even though we got Paris Club, we got Bailout money but we were not able to settle that. We said we would set aside N100 million every month (to settle the pension arrears) and even that was not achieveable because we had to really concentrate on salaries.”
According to him, his administration has never failed to pay workers their salary or Pensioners their entitlements however, pointing out that there are people suffering because the government is trying to address the prevalence of ghost workers which is evading solutions.
He assured that by January, the government will come up with solutions to address the menace saying that “I have set up several committees but this time around, my Deputy and the Speaker and I will head the committees ourselves to make sure we address these once and for all.
“It is not because we don’t have money, we have saved about N500 million from the (verification) exercise, but it doesn’t make sense to save N500 million and people will be claiming that they have not been paid and in most cases when we address those that have not been paid, we will discover that we have one problem or the other. Either promotion that is not due or conversion that is done irregularly, among others but the public will not know and if we must address, there must be transparency, community engagement.
“We will not make savings and make people go hungry because they are being subjected to some checks and balances in the system, this is not acceptable,” he said.
Mohammed commended CAN and Christians in the state for their their loyalty, support and love “irrespective of the inadeqaucies and limitations of the leadership.”
Earlier in his speech, the CAN Chairman, Rev. Joshua Maina, commended the governor and the Deputy Governor for the active role they played in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
He expressed appreciation to the governor for given many Christians various appointive positions in his cabinet noting that it had never happened before in the history of the state.
“This is the first government that believes in carrying the Christian folks in order to come and govern the state with him. I believe he did that without any sentiment or biasness. At the course of his appointments, he wasn’t looking at whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, he was looking at the citizens of Bauchi State who can help and deliver.
“However, I would like to call on the Christians that have been given this trust must be found faithful. It is one thing to be brought in board to govern, it is another thing to remain faithful and deliver without failing he that appointed you,” he admonished.