5 States in Des­per­ate Moves to Clear Salary Back­logs

With barely less than 150-days to next year’s gen­eral elec­tions, some state gov­ern­ments are still in­debted to their work­ers-serv­ing and re­tired-de­spite re­ceiv­ing tranches of Paris Club funds in bil­lions. Some gov­er­nors have em­barked on des­per­ate moves to

Sunday Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Fidelis Mac-Leva (Abuja), Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja Hope Abah Em­manuel, Makurdi, Has­san Ibrahim, Lafia, Bassey Wil­lie, Ye­nagoa and Romoke W. Ah­mad, Ilori­nof

It was barely eleven days to the con­duct

the just con­cluded gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in Osun State when Gov­er­nor Rauf Aregbesola re­port­edly re­leased the sum of N19.8bn as pay­ment to work­ers and pen­sion­ers who had hith­erto been owed in ar­rears for over 10 months.

The gov­er­nor also di­rected that work­ers who had been put on half pay should hence­forth be paid in full. The state’s Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance, Bola Oye­bamiji, who dis­closed this in a state­ment on Tues­day, Septem­ber 11, 2018 re­port­edly said the gov­er­nor had au­tho­rized the re­lease of the sum of N19,801,328,271.22 for grad­ual dis­burse­ment as salaries and other en­ti­tle­ments owed state work­ers and pen­sion­ers

“In line with labour unions’ de­mands and cur­rent fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of the state, the gov­ern­ment of Osun State led by Rauf Aregbesola has au­tho­rized pay­ment of four (4) months’ salary ar­rears and 2016 leave bonus to its work­ers. Also, the Gov­er­nor has di­rected that go­ing-for­ward, work­ers in the state should be paid their full salary as and when due to demon­strate his com­mit­ment to his ear­lier prom­ises,” Oye­bamiji said.

Al­though the fi­nance com­mis­sioner said the re­lease of the fund was a show of the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to state work­ers, not a few ob­servers raised the sus­pi­cion that he was try­ing to ‘buy’ vot­ers more so that it fol­lowed just days af­ter re­ports emerged that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment paid the state N16.6 bil­lion as part of the Paris Club re­fund.

Ahead of the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Daily Trust on Sun­day have re­vealed that like their Osun State coun­ter­parts, many other state gov­er­nors who owe work­ers’ salaries and re­tirees’ pen­sion arears run­ning into bil­lions are mak­ing des­per­ate moves to as­suage the work­ers in their re­spec­tive states.

How­ever, with barely less than 150 days to the con­duct of the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions, there are in­di­ca­tions that such gov­er­nors may be step­ping into the elec­tion year with huge back­log of un­paid salaries. Kogi In Kogi State, our checks re­veal that civil ser­vants are be­ing owed over six months’ salaries. Kogi State Chair­man of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Com­rade Ranti Ojo, said there was an out­stand­ing of 40% ar­rears of five months in 2017 which added up to two full month salaries.

Al­though the monthly wage of state was put at N2.7 bil­lion cur­rently, it could not be as­cer­tained the ex­act amount the gov­ern­ment is in­debted to civil ser­vants and pen­sion­ers even though it runs into bil­lions.

The TUC chair­man, how­ever, said that work­ers were also be­ing owed salaries for the months of June to Septem­ber 2018 which adds up to an­other four months.

Ac­cord­ing to him, there are other cat­e­gories of work­ers that are owed sev­eral months of salaries due to the fall­out of the pro­longed staff ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­er­cise em­barked upon by the state gov­ern­ment.

The State Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance, Al­haji Idris Asiru, said work­ers have been paid up to May and that ef­forts are on to block all leak­ages and re­duce cost of gov­er­nance in order to be able clear ar­rears owed work­ers. This move is viewed as in­tended to pacify the work­ers ahead of the 2019 elec­tions. Benue In Benue State, the last minute ef­fort by Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom to set­tle out­stand­ing salary ar­rears run­ning into six months be­fore go­ing into the 2019 polls has hit the brick wall as the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment re­port­edly re­called its share of the Paris Club. The em­bat­tled gov­er­nor had re­port­edly di­rected the dis­burse­ment of the N14.9 bil­lion Paris Club re­fund re­ceived by the state gov­ern­ment to off­set at least four months back­log of salaries be­fore the fed­eral gov­ern­ment thwarted the ar­range­ment by re­call­ing back the fund.

As at now the Benue State gov­ern­ment is said to owe work­ers in its em­ploy six months’ salary ar­rears while those at the lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cils are be­ing owed for 10 months with teach­ers owed for 11 months.

The state’s Chair­man of Nige­rian Labour Congress (NLC), God­win Anya told our cor­re­spon­dent that pen­sion­ers in the state are cur­rently be­ing owed for 14 months and gra­tu­ities run­ning into bil­lions of Naira.

The Deputy Gov­er­nor of the state who is the Chair­man of the State of Emer­gency on Salary Com­mit­tee, Engr. Ben­son Abounu in a re­cent ap­pear­ance be­fore the state’s House of Assem­bly main­tained that based on the find­ings from his com­mit­tee, the to­tal wage bill of the state had been re­duced from N7.8bil­lion to N5.5bil­lion. Nasarawa In Nasarawa state civil ser­vants are be­ing owed three months’ salary ar­rears, while their lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­ter­part are re­ceiv­ing per­cent­age salaries, Daily Trust on Sun­day gath­ered.

How­ever, the state gov­ern­ment is said to have promised to set­tle all out­stand­ing ar­rears of civil ser­vants be­fore 2019 elec­tion. Last week the state gov­ern­ment sum­moned a meet­ing over ar­rears of sec­ondary school teach­ers with the Aca­demic Staff Union of Sec­ondary Schools (ASUSS). Bayelsa Ahead of the 2019 elec­tions the Bayelsa state gov­ern­ment is said to have promised to use N8 bil­lion from the N24.16 bil­lion re­ceived from Paris Club re­funds to set­tle back­log of salary and pen­sion ar­rears of the civil ser­vants and re­tirees in the state.

The state com­mis­sioner for In­for­ma­tion and Ori­en­ta­tion, Daniel Iworiso-Mark­son, who dis­closed this in a state­ment last week, also an­nounced that the state gov­ern­ment has re­ceived a to­tal sum of N24.16 bil­lion from the Paris Club debt re­fund.

Civil ser­vants in the state have been cry­ing for their un­set­tled ar­rears span­ning many months, Daily Trust on Sun­day learnt that civil ser­vants are also owed three to four months’ salary ar­rears.

Chair­man of the Nige­ria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, John Bipre Ndiomu, re­cently raised alarm that work­ers in the state were still be­ing owed three months’ salary ar­rears and urged the state gov­ern­ment to pay the back­log owed work­ers since 2016 in order for them to im­prove their well-be­ing.

“Yes, we have been owed for three months by the state gov­ern­ment. We call their at­ten­tion on the need to pay the ar­rears now that we have come out of the re­ces­sion. We agreed that for the past two years, salary have been paid reg­u­larly but the ar­rears are still our ma­jor con­cern, es­pe­cially now that the econ­omy is im­prov­ing.”

How­ever, In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner, Iworiso-Mark­son said Gov­er­nor Henry Se­ri­ake Dickson, had di­rected im­me­di­ate pay­ment of two out of the out­stand­ing three months’ salary ar­rears to work­ers and four out of seven months’ pen­sion ar­rears in the state. Kwara The Gov­er­nor Ab­dul­fat­tah Ahmed led ad­min­is­tra­tion of Kwara State which will be com­ing to an end by May 29, 2019 will be leav­ing with huge out­stand­ing salary ar­rears be­ing owed some work­ers and pen­sion­ers, checks by Daily Trust on Sun­day re­veal.

The State Chair­man of Nige­rian Labour Congress, Mr Yekini Agun­bi­ade con­firmed that the state gov­ern­ment still owes some salary ar­rears. In a tele­phone in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent he said the state gov­ern­ment is still ow­ing SUBEB teach­ers and non­teach­ing staff some salary ar­rears, in­clud­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment work­ers, lo­cal gov­ern­ment pen­sion­ers, some paras­tatals and ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

Con­cerned Teach­ers of SUBEB in Kwara state re­cently protested at the state cap­i­tal Ilorin over their un­paid salary ar­rears in­sist­ing that they will not re­sume for a new aca­demic ses­sion. Spokesper­son of the teach­ers, Mr Abubakar Ab­dul­wha’ab said Kwara SUBEB teach­ers have en­dured for long and can­not en­dure any­more.

“Our staff is dy­ing. Kwara SUBEB teach­ers have turned to beg­gars. They beg all over the streets. We im­plore the Kwara State Gov­er­nor, and the Se­nate Pres­i­dent to come to our aid. We are tired of be­ing pa­tient. If they do not pay us, we will not re­sume aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We do not have pro­mo­tion since 2010. They gave us two let­ters with­out money. They can­not bring their wards to our school. It is as if they do not have blood in their vein. It was sched­uled that we will re­sume by Septem­ber 17, if they do not pay us, we are stay­ing at home and no Jupiter can force us to re­sume. No money, no re­sump­tion”, he main­tained.

Gov Al-Makura of Nasarawa

Gov Or­tom of Benue

Gov Ahmed of Kwara

Gov Bello of Kogi

Gov Dickson of Bayelsa

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