Following the discovery of massive fraud, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday ordered the immediate stoppage of illegal deductions amounting to N360 million monthly, in the payment structure of government workers in the 23 local government areas in Sokoto State.
Under the guise of ‘unscheduled appointments,’ some local council workers are underpaid by about 60 percent of their entitlements by their councils, resulting in disharmony and lower productivity in the third tier of government in the state.
Announcing the stoppage of the deductions and recruitment of the ‘unscheduled appointees’ at a rally in Sokoto, Tambuwal said any local government that fails to abide by the new directive will face the full wrath of the law.
He said all government workers are entitled to full pay, as such underpayment amounts to fraud and his administration will not fold its arms and watch illegal happenings in the state.
It was revealed that the fraudulent scheme was worked out between local councils and staff at the state Ministry for Local Government where some workers were recruited but asked to collect just 40 percent of their salaries and allowances. The remaining 60 per cent was shared by top officials of the LGAs.Incidentally, such underpaid staff form the bulk of the workers in the local councils.
A document seen by this newspaper showed that about 38,000 such workers were exploited in this fraudulent scheme in the 23 LGAs of the state.
The breakdown shows that Sokoto North and Sokoto South LGAs have a total of 2,300 and 2,150 workers under the unscheduled appointments sleaze. They are closely followed by Tambuwal LGA which has 2,050 workers.
Others are Binji LGA, 1,400; Silame, 1,500; Tangaza, 1,600; Gudu, 1,300; Wamakko, 1,850; Kware 1,600; Dange Shuni, 1,350; Tureta, 1,400; Bodinga, 1,650; Shagari, 1,550; Yabo, 1,750, and Kebbe council, 1,300.
The rest include Gwadabawa LGA, 1,650; Illela 1,700; Rabah 1,350; Wurno, 1,400; Isa, 1,600; Sabon Birni, 1,450; Gada, 1,700 and Goronyo, 1,650.
A source in Sokoto revealed that virtually all of the unscheduled appointees do not have schedule of duties and hardly ever go to their offices but would be paid when local government allocations are paid.
“We had a situation in one local government where the chairman had issues with some legitimate members of staff and the next thing he did was to turn them into ‘unscheduled appointees’ and warned them to either collect the reduced salary or risk losing their jobs altogether.
“Many of them were afraid to raise the alarm because of fear of victimisation,” the source revealed.
Speaking on the stoppage of the illegal payments while addressing religious, traditional and political leaders from 10 local government areas who paid him a Sallah visit in Sokoto, Tambuwal said employment opportunities would be created to absorb all the LG staff who are qualified and willing to work.
According to him, government will take the issue of its finances very seriously and any officer found wanting will face the full wrath of the law.
He appealed to youths in the state to brace themselves for new ideas, urging them to embrace policies that will be introduced to make them self-reliant.
The governor appealed to his visitors to support his administration, adding that all projects initiated by the previous government would be completed and new ones undertaken. -Leadership