Civil servants in Benue State have shunned offices, following the non-payment of their salary in the last six months.
Traders have cried out for lack of patronage.
Investigations by The Nation showed that primary school teachers are the worst hit, as they are owed five months’ salary without any hope. Although there was an announcement on the state-owned radio that
Governor Gabriel Suswam ordered that their salary should be paid.
When our correspondent visited the state secretariat, most of the offices were empty. Those who reported for duty were idling away in parks and gardens, discussing the hardship caused by the non-payment of salary.
A civil servant, who works with the Ministry of Agriculture, Comrade Paul Omale, said his two children had been sent away from school because he had not paid their fees, adding that he was finding it difficult to feed his family.
He said he had parked his vehicle and resorted to trekking because he could not afford petrol sold at N105 per litre.
Mrs. Torkwase Ugoh said she could not afford the transport fare of N100, hence she decided to stay at home until her salary was paid.
At the Ministry of Land and Survey, civil servants plucked unripe mangoes and ate them as breakfast.
They said the non-payment of their salaries for almost six months had made life unbearable for them and their families.
Beer parlour operators complained of low patronage.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Godwin Anya, debunked a report that teachers had been paid, saying government owed them five months’ salary.
A teacher in LGEA Primary School, Ayilamo, Tombo Ward, Mrs. Ukeyima Ucha, said Governor Suswam did not mean well for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Prince Terhemen Tarzor, if he owed salary.
“Suswam wants Tarzor to succeed him, but he has forgotten that the best campaign for Tarzor is for the PDP-led administration to pay workers’ salary. Election is near and people will reject an administration that does not pay civil servants,” Mrs. Ucha said.
A government source, who preferred anonymity, told The Nation that the shortfall from the federal allocation and fall in oil prices caused the delay in the payment of salary.