The State Secretary of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and Chairman, Lapai Local Government, Mu’azu Jantabo, has alleged that some state government agencies are conniving with local government officials in stealing funds in the state.
Addressing stakeholders at a town hall meeting to address the lingering crisis between the local government chairmen and staff over the percentage payment of salaries, Jantabo said there were several ghost workers and unqualified employees in all the 25 LGAs including those who had not finished secondary schools.
Citing his local government as an example, the chairman said, “Currently our wage bill in Lapai LG is N130 million on salaries alone and we have other commitments like contribution to IBB University, known as statutory deductions, Local Government Service Commission among others. If we put all the responsibilities together, it amounts to over N200 million. And as it were, since I assumed office, the highest allocation that we have gotten in my LG is N175 million. So, if you look at it, on a monthly basis, we have a deficit of close to N50 million.”
He also said local government pension lists were full of fictitious names with only 189 genuine names out of the 445 supplied by the pension board.
“We found out that over 40 names were of those who had died. So, who was collecting these pensions? After that, our pension fund was down by close to N10 million,” he said.
He said he had deployed technology that as soon as a staff member was due for retirement, his name would automatically be deleted from the payroll, noting that even some local government financial officers were fond of underpaying some staff and taking more money for themselves.
Jantabo advocated full autonomy for local governments so that they can also enjoy political and administrative autonomy.
“I cannot have control over salaries; we are at the local government and someone whose salary is N40,000 is conniving with accountants in Minna and they pay him N150,000 monthly. So, unless we are able to address all these problems, that is when we are suitable to practice autonomy,” he added.