Some former local government councillors in Niger on Monday resumed protest to demand payment of N1.27 billion benefits allegedly owed them by the state government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 274 councillors , who served from 2016 t0 2019, converged at 7.00. a.m. at the state secretariat in Minna and prevented civil servants from entering their offices.
NAN reports that the councillors started the protest on March 11.
Their spokesman, Mr Garba Umar, told journalist that they decided to take their case to God by praying at the gate of the state secretariat.
Umar, who represented Usalle Ward in Kontagora Local Government Area, said that the protesters had met with the state government officials and written letters to the government on the matter, but had yet to achieve their aim.
“We have met with stakeholders such as the Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello; the chief of staff and the speaker of the state Assembly but nothing has been done.
“We are here to protest non-payment of our benefits by Niger State government,” he said.
The spokesperson alleged that the governor had directed the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Abdulmalik Daji, to effect the payment but the directive had yet to be carried out.
According to him, the allowances include those for furniture, medical and accommodation as well as severance package.
He said that under the arrangement, each councillor would receive over N4.6 million and the total amount would be N 1.27 billion.
He said that the protesters would not stop until payment of the money.
“We will continue to lay siege at the Niger State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs until our allowances are paid’’.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu, appealed to the protesters to end the protest.
He advised them not to lock out the workers.
Aliyu said that he was not aware that the government owed the councillors, since he came into the ministry as the permanent secretary.
“Nevertheless, I will meet with the commissioner to find a lasting solution to the imbroglio soon,” he said.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Daji, had admitted that the former councillors were being owed some allowances, but said that the delay in the payment was not deliberate.