From Nwogha Ndubuisi, Abakaliki
Ebonyi state Governor,Rt Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru has approved for the payment of 25-years backlog gratuity between 1996-2021 amounting over three billion naira.
The State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Engr Jude Okpor made this known today, Thursday 21st September,2023 during press briefing at Cabinet Office Old Government House Abakaliki.
According to the information Commissioner, the payment of the 3.891 billion naira has been approved and released and would take effect from Thursday 21st September,2023.
“Ebonyi State Government is set to commence payment of outstanding gratuity to retirees numbering 1715 spanning from 1996 to 2021 with effect from Thursday September 21, 2023.
“The total sum of 3.891 billion naira has been approved and released for this purpose.
He explained that the state governor, Nwifuru gave the directive while presiding the 5th State Executive Council meeting of his administration at Council Chambers, Ochoudo Centenary City, Abakaliki.
The statement reads:
“The Executive Meeting was presided over by the Chairman of Council and Governor of Ebonyi State, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru.
“Before proceeding to the issues of the day, the Council received the report of the Committee on Ebonyi Fertilizer Plant. The CAN chairman, Reverend Dr. Scamb Nwokolo, who is the Committee chairman presented the report.
“Handing over the report, Reverend Nwokolo, on behalf of the members of his committee thanked the Governor for the privilege to serve. He expressed optimism that the committee’s recommendations would be of benefit in solving the problems of the Ebonyi State Fertilizer and Chemical Plant, making it more functional. Council commended the committee for diligently completing the work within a record time.
“Council received a report that a total of 17, 834 applications were received by the State Civil Service Commission, out of which only 5,352 met the requirement of submitting Original Certificates, with their application while the rest submitted their statements of results.
Council resolved to uphold the above criteria for eligibility for shortlisting with a proviso that opportunities should be given to those who did not attach their certificates but are able to provide theirs before the screening date.
“Addressing the Council, the Chairman of Council emphasized that the recruitment should be merit-based so as to give all applicants equal opportunity to compete for the job. Council further urged the Commission to fast track the process to ensure that the exercise is concluded as soon as possible.
b. Progress report on the payment of gratuity was received by Council from the Head of Service.
Council approved the immediate commencement of payment from tomorrow (Thursday), September 21, 2023 with a release of the the sum of N3,851,763,617.65. Recall that EXCO had earlier received a preliminary report on this matter during which the sum of about N4.3 billion was earmarked for the exercise. However, following the actual compilation and computation by the Gratuity Committee and other relevant organs of government with actual available data, it was found out that the total of eligible beneficiaries (retirees) at present are 1,715 which amounted to the approved sum at council deliberations.
“Council received a report on the state of the Ebonyi State Pulverization Plant at Okposi Umuoghara in Ezza North Local Government Area and approved that a brand new Recycling Machine be sourced for installation at the plant to achieve the Waste-to-Wealth vision of the state. Council further directed the Commissioner for Environment to liaise with his counterpart of Capital City Development to draw a waste management solution to effectively address indiscriminate waste disposal in the state capital and bring to next EXCO meeting for consideration.
The report of the Committee on the State’s Fertilizer and Chemical Plant at Onuebonyi was read and adopted by Council. Chairman of Council in a background information, explained the genesis of the crises at the plant which was based on the former General Manager’s refusal to leave office even when the past Governor dissolved all the appointees. An audit panel of the office of the Auditor General further indicted him for financial impropriety.
Other issues which emanated from his unprofessional conducts necessitated the setting up of the committee on 11th September, inaugurated by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Grace Umezuruike. Part of the findings of the Committee as read out is that the suspended General Manager, used his private company for procuring equipment and materials for the fertilizer plant with government fund which was not properly accounted for.
The following recommendations, among others were made: i.That the matter be referred to the state Attorney General for further action.
ii.That the government should charge the embattled former GM for using the State storage facility for his private company.
iii.That the Board of Directors should be properly constituted for proper supervision of the company.
iv. That other matters of criminality and shoddy transactions by the former GM should be refered to the police for proper investigation.
The Committee concluded that the former GM, Prof. Ogbonnaya Chukwu, did not comply with the code of conduct for public officers in his transactions in the company, and such conduct should be followed with recommended process of public probe.
The Council after deliberations deferred further action on the report to the next EXCO meeting.
“Council received a progress report from the State Palliative Committee which assured that plans have reached advanced stage for the distribution of over 100, 000 bags of rice and other materials to vulnerable households in the State. Council charged the committee to hasten arrangements for immediate distribution.