In a demonstration of frustration over months of unpaid salaries, civil servants in Abia State staged a protest yesterday, effectively locking out the Accountant-General, Mrs. Njum Onyemenam, from her office. The workers, owed salaries for several months, gathered at the Ministry of Finance, barricading the entrance and preventing the Accountant-General from entering the premises.
According to some of the workers, they have endured up to five months without receiving their salaries. This move comes just a week after Governor Alex Otti assured the workers that all outstanding salaries would be settled by year-end. Mike Akpara, the Commissioner for Finance, acknowledged the arduous task of clearing the salary arrears, stating that some workers were owed as much as 30 months’ worth of salary by the previous administration under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Contrary to reports circulating in the media, Mrs. Njum Onyemenam, the Accountant-General, refuted claims that she was chased out of her office by angry civil servants. Onyemenam clarified that she was never present in her office during the time when the alleged incident took place. She explained that she had encountered a situation at the entrance gate to the Government House area where a few individuals were being restrained by security personnel. In response, she chose to use an alternative entrance to access her office without obstruction.
Dismissing the rumors as “fake news” and “absolute falsehood,” Onyemenam emphasized that she wasn’t evicted from her office. In accordance with Governor Dr. Alex Otti’s directive to pay workers on or before the 28th of each month, the Accountant-General confirmed that all civil servants in the state had received their salaries for the month of August. The salaries were disbursed on August 28, 2023.
As tensions simmer over delayed salaries, the situation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by both the state government and its workforce in Abia State.