Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, has assured Civil Servants in the State that he has no plans of downsizing the State workforce as a condition for the payment of the new National Minimum wage.
There had been rumours allegedly orchestrated by the major opposition party in the State, the All Progressives Congress, that the Governor intends to sack all workers from Grade level 12 and above in order to accommodate the new National Minimum Wage.
Speaking in refutal of the rumour in a Press Conference at the Government House, Abakaliki, on Wednesday, Umahi described it as a baseless campaign of calumny emanating from the “pit of hell.”
He maintained that the Minimum Wage was a national issue which no individual State has the right to act in the contrary when finalized.
He assured Civil Servants in the State that his administration was committed to paying them the approved wage as soon as all the processes were concluded, adding that the federal government was working on palliative measures to enable States cope with the extra burden that may emanate from its implementation.
The Governor, who recounted all the incentives accruing to the State work force from the inception of his administration such as prompt payment of salaries by the 15th of every month, payment of Christmas bonuses and 13th month salary, stressed that no other State Government, particularly in the South East, matches him in matters of workers’ welfare.
According to him, no worker in the State was being owed any legitimate promotion as at date while their Leave Allowances were duly paid as part of their monthly salaries.
He stressed that Government had set out over N4 billion as soft loan fund to be accessed by Civil Servants wishing to diversify their sources of livelihood at very low interest rate and extended repayment period.
He challenged the opposition to always verify the facts before making senseless insinuations capable of betraying their total ignorance of the art of governance.
He further maintained that in spite of the very low federal allocation accruing to the State, his administration had reduced school fees payable at the State University, making it the lowest among State Universities in Nigeria, adding that Ebonyi was the only State where government pay hospital bills of indigent patients on regular basis.
Umahi said: “I want our people to throw that rumour to the pit of hell and continue their businesses.
“Minimum wage is a national issue and no State has the right to say otherwise, especially as there are palliative measures being put in place by the Federal Government to that effect.
“I want to assure Ebonyians that when the minimum wage is approved, there would be adequate provisions to pay the wage in full in Ebonyi State.
“I have no plans to sack any Civil Servant at all. The Civil Servants of Ebonyi State would be paid their minimum wage completely immediately the final verdict is announced.
“Anybody owed promotion in the Civil Service should report to the Head of Service for immediate action.
“Under my watch, no Civil Servant would be denied what is legitimately due to him or her.”
Umahi, however, seized the occasion to call on all Ebonyians and indeed the entire South East to disregard the call in some quarters for election boycott.
He noted that the call was unpatriotic and counter productive, especially for Ndigbo who are desirous of attaining parity with their other counterparts in affairs of the nation.
While he maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari was his friend, Umahi said he campaigned and continues to campaign for Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party for at all levels.
He encouraged the people of the South East not to allow themselves to be deceived but to troupe out enmasse to vote, adding: “Election is one of the ways we can change our fortune.”