Rochas suspends Imo State accountant-general and demands arrest of bank managers over non-payment of salaries

IMO State governor Rochas Okorocha has suspended his accountant-general Stella Udogwu over the non-payment of workers’ salaries for the month of November after it emerged that she had not paid them despite the money being approved.


With elections looming and Christmas approaching, the non-payment of salaries is a sensitive issue in Nigeria and many state governors are under pressure to pay up. Most of Nigeria's 36 states owe a backlog of salary arrears due to the fact that their expenditure far exceeds their revenue buy Imo State has managed to clear of its payments.


Incensed by the fact workers had not been paid despite him approving the money, Governor Okorocha not only suspended Mrs Udogwu but also ordered for the arrest of the branch managers of Ecobank and Access Bank. Governor Okorocha is running for senator in next February's elections, so cannot afford to owe workers over the Christmas period.


Sam Onwuemeodo, the chief press secretary to the governor, said: “The governor had before now directed that the October and November salaries of workers in the state workforce should be paid at the same time in October. He had believed that the directive was carried out accordingly, only to be told by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (Nulge), when he attended the event to mark the 40th anniversary of the union at the Hero’s Square Owerri on November 30, 2018, that the workers had not been paid the November salary.


“The governor who was shocked to learn of the development, announced the immediate suspension of the accountant-general and ordered for the arrest of the branch managers of Ecobank and Access Bank said to be where the money for the salaries of the local government employees for the months of October and November were lodged. The governor therefore ordered that the November and December salaries should now be paid on December 3, 2018, since December 1st and 2nd are not working days and equally announced N10,000 each for the workers as their Christmas bonus and N2.5m as car allowances for each of the local government directors of administration and general services."


He added that the governor also announced that henceforth, there would not be any need for any local government worker to try to convert to the ministry to be able to get to level 17 or become a permanent secretary.