The Niger Government on Wednesday expressed readiness to meet with protesting former councillors in the state over their unpaid N1.27 billion severance benefits.
Mr Abdulmalik Daji, the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, made this known while briefing newsmen in Minna.
274 ex-councillors, who served from 2016 to 2019 had been protesting peacefully since March 11 to demand for the payment of their furniture, severance, medical and accommodation allowances.
“The state government and the protesting councillors have agreed to meet in order to resolve the issue of their unpaid allowances.
“What we are waiting for now is a formal letter to let us know when they will be ready for the meeting.
“As soon as they communicate my office formally we will meet and discuss,’’ the commissioner said.
Daji admitted that the state government owed the former councillors, who had served in the 25 Local Government Areas (LGAs) from 2003 to 2019.
He said that after the proposed meeting with the leadership of the ex-councillors, the government would come up with an arrangement on how to pay them.
“I assure you that government will pay all of them,’’ Daji said, adding that there was the need to meet with them in order to ascertain the amount owed the councillors by the government.
Malam Garba Umar, the spokesman for the former councillors, however, said there was a meeting between them and the state government on Monday.
Umar said it was agreed at the meeting that the current 25 LGA Chairmen should begin payment of the benefits by the end of March.
He listed government representatives at the meeting as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr Ibrahim Balarabe.
Umar said that also in attendance were Mr Ibrahim Lalalo, the state Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria and Chairman Chanchaga LGA, as well as representatives of the Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps.