From Mathew Jwantu, Minna
A recent foreign retreat by Chairmen of the 25 Local Government Areas of Niger State has gulped N1.2 billion, MK has learnt.
The amount is the average cost of 2500 boreholes, or 2.5million primary school books. It is also capable of settling the N30,000 minimum wage of 40,000 workers.
A similar retreat was in January held in Kaduna for the same Chairmen after they were sworn in.
Though the cost of the Kaduna retreat cannot be ascertained, of the participating 25 Local Government Councils, 13 cannot independently pay their staff salaries.
These include Chanchaga, Bida, Suleja, Kontagora, Mokwa, Paikoro, Shiroro, Lavun, Lapai, Agaie, paikoro, Rijau, and Tafa LGAs.
The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the State had been using surplus funds from other LGC accounts to augment the allocation of the affected councils to enable them to pay their staff.
However, at a meeting last month after the monthly Federal allocation was received, disagreements broke out and the supposedly viable Councils declined to release the surplus funds to assist the 13.
The Ghana trip has roused serious public debates but officials claim it was meant to attract investment.
The member representing Suleja constituency in the State Assembly, Hon. Suleja said the trip was to facilitate business partnership with some Ghanian companies.
The Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Mrs. Mary Berje also told MK that the trip was a followup to the state Governor’s earlier discussions with Ghana’s Jonsang waste recycling company for effective waste management in the State.
In her words, “The Accra based recycling group of companies is expected to establish an outfit in the state to take care of waste sorting and organic waste composting plant, plastic recycling and waste bins manufacturing plant, tricycle assembly plant and the state-of-the -art liquid waste processing plant”.
However, why 25 LG Chairmen were necessary for the trip is yet to be undertood.