Taraba state is steadily overcoming a challenge it had with delays in settling salaries of some workers at the local government level. The challenge, government claims, was created by greed in the first place. The state’s Internally Generated Revenue has also quadrupled in the last two years.
Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku told visiting members of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) Tuesday in Jalingo that the salary crisis was caused by many greedy stakeholders who profited from a wage racket. He noted that he met an overbloated salary wage bill when he was sworn in as governor.
He said, “it is easy to ignore many things when there is money. I think the tendency was to just sign off on exaggerated salary bills in the past. But due to dwindling funds from the central purse, I had to closely use binoculars to scrutinise that pay roll. And what I found was shocking. There was wholesale importation of fictitious names on pay rolls. You won’t believe those involved in the graft. I had to promptly start a biometric and verification exercise. I’m aware of all the crisis that also caused but we were determined to rid the system of this malaise. As we speak, education secretaries and directors of finance at the local government have been relieved of their duties. They are on suspension due to their roles and this would enable us clean up the system.”
Ishaku noted he strongly believes that the salary arears would soon be cleared. He stressed that some of the loud agitations are occasioned by those who have lost out in the racket.
“There was one we discovered recently where a director was earning more than the governor and his deputy put together. When I asked I was told it was due to the worker’s hazard allowance. I was like what kind of hazard is that? I mean is his job more hazardous than everyone’s? I looked into it and then we both wore jeans and started fighting. We just ended the fight a few days ago.”
Ishaku said the state is not owing state workers, stressing that the problem was at the local government levels. He said there are even schools that don’t exist but have “teachers” collecting salaries. He said the state has compiled an authentic data of actual teachers on ground. He said, “sometimes, a school doesn’t even exist. We got to know this from our Rescue grassroots watchers. These are people we recruited from all our wards. So they brought authentic information on the schools and their teachers. We now know what we are expected to pay and we are clearing them.”
The governor said his team was doing all it could to raise the IGR of the state, noting he has been able to raise the IGR four times over want he met on ground.
He said, “mineral exploration can change our IGR profile in Taraba state but some federal laws are inhibiting us. The state is blessed with all sorts of mineral deposits but exploration has become a challenge.”