‘We’re not folding our arms’ – Governor
THE likelihood of the striking workers of the State of Osun returning to work soon is not yet certain as the aggrieved workers who had embarked on an indefinite strike since Tuesday, May 26, 2015, had vowed to remain in total compliance with the seat at home order by the chairman of the state’s chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Jacobs Akunkomi, pending the time the state government will pay up their outstanding salaries.
One of the aggrieved workers who spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on Saturday, June 6, 2015, said all the workers in the state had agreed not to end the strike unless the government obliges their request.
“We’ve all resolved to remain at home until the whole issue is resolved. We can’t die of hunger. The governor has no explanation for the further delay in the payment of our salaries after assuring us of government readiness to clear the debts before the second quarter of this year.
“We’re yet to be paid since December 2014. Does it mean Aregbesola and his cabinet members have also not collected their salaries? It’s sheer wickedness. It’s unfair. Most of us have been living on loans, even from ridiculous sources. We can’t even afford to pay our children’s school fees. I can assure you, none of us will go back to work unless we’re fully paid. It’s no pay, no work. We’re fed up.”
Meanwhile, the man at the helm of affairs of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had blamed the state’s poor finance on the current financial crisis which led to the non-payment of workers’ salaries for six months.
The governor reportedly blamed the state woes on the poor earnings from both the Federal Allocations and Internally Generated Revenue, which for the past four years only amounted to N204 billion.
He was reported to have traced the genesis of the state’s financial mess to 2012, when salaries increased drastically as a result of hike in wages.
Giving the analysis, the engineer turned politician was quoted as saying, “The summary of five years revealed that in two months of 2010, we received a net allocation of N4.2 bn and paid emoluments of N3.6 bn. This left us with a net gain of N573m from our statutory allocation.
“In 2011 also, we got N29.9 bn allocation and spent N25.8 bn on emoluments with a net gain of N4 bn. However, in 2012, we got N28.4 bn and expended N31.6 bn on emoluments.
“This left us, for the first time, with a deficit of N3.2 bn. The following year, 2013, our statutory allocation dropped to N26.4 bn while our emoluments rose to N36.9 bn. This gave us a whooping N10.4 bn deficit.
“In 2014, our statutory allocation fell further to N19.3 bn and by which time we were already defaulting on some of our obligations on emoluments.
“In summary, between November 2010 and December 2014, we got a total statutory allocation of N108.3 bn and our expenditure on emoluments was N120.4 bn. It left us with a total deficit of N12 bn.
“Aside expenditure on salaries, if other emoluments are to be included, the total expenditure will be N206 bn and statutory allocation will be N108.3bn. With other accruals from Abuja, it will add up to N176.5 bn, leaving the state with a deficit of almost N30 bn.
“Even when we add our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), we were still only able to muster N204 bn and still short by N2 bn. It simply means all the earnings from all sources between 2010 and 2014 could not carry our concurrent expenditure.”
However, the governor had assured the workers that the issue will soon become history as the interest of the entire work force of the state supercedes every other thing in the agenda of his administration. He, therefore, appealed to the warring workers to sheath their swords in the interest of the state.
On Monday, June 8, 2015, ENCOMIUM Weekly sought Aregbesola’s further reaction on the latest concerning the rancor, via his Director of Bureau de Publicity, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon. He also corroborated the workers submission but was optimistic that the crisis will soon be over.
According to Okanlawon, “The state has started the payment of local government workers’ salaries. We have paid up to February this year. We will also pay the state civil servants up to January.
“We’re not folding our arms. We understand the workers’ plight and the governor is doing everything possible to address their issue. We know we owe them and efforts are being made to clear all the outstanding salaries. It’s not the government’s fault but the deductions from our Federal allocation have really affected the state financial status. But once all the revenue complications are sorted out, everything will be settled. We can only appeal to them to go back to work and reason with the present administration.”
– TADE ASIFAT