In 2015, when some states ran into financial quagmire which resulted in their inability to pay their workers’ salaries, the Federal Government saved the states from total collapse by giving them economic relief (bail out) running into billions of naira for them to fully settle the backlog of their outstanding salaries which are yet to be cleared. Instead, the debt profile is still increasing. Even, few other states that were not in the list including Ekiti, Ondo and others have also joined the league of debtors now. And as the economy bites harder, it has become increasingly difficult for the workers in such states to cope; hence the need to embark on industrial action witnessed in some states at the beginning of the year.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s investigations revealed that about 26 states are yet to level up as regards the payment of their workers’ salaries as some still owe up to six months as at June this year. Among these states are Bayelsa, Abia, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Imo, Kwara, Ondo, Kogi, Plateau, Benue, Delta and more.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with a few workers in few of the states, and they all explained the challenges of coping without salaries.
This situation we found ourselves in Ekiti, to me, shouldn’t be a total surprise. We all know the antecedent of Governor Fayose. He rules by propaganda and lies. He’s a very smart governor and he has pocketed some top Ekiti indigenes. That’s why he runs the place like his father’s firm. When he was campaigning, he deceived almost all of us, and we all followed him like dogs. Now, we’re being paid back in our coins. I could recollect vividly that in 2015, Fayose came out publicly to condemn Aregbesola and other governors that couldn’t pay their workers’ salaries. He even asked them to resign. Now, he has also dragged the state into that mess. He has not paid us for six months. We protested, nothing was done. He even deceived us by identifying with us in the protest. We thought something good will come out of that. Up till now, it has been story upon story. And what are we hearing? It’s a shocking story of his loot. The governor is richer than the state but he couldn’t afford the salaries of the workers in that state. I think the man should resign because I don’t think he can come out clean of the allegations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). So, the best thing for him is to leave the seat for a credible candidate or be impeached. He’s a disgrace to Ekiti people.
I am a civil servant in Ekiti. I come to Lagos almost every month because this is where I worked before going back to my home town in 2011, to accept a public job. Since Fayose came on board, I have not really seen any tangible thing done by his administration other than making noise up and down, deceiving Ekiti people as if he’s our messiah. I have found it difficult to cope as a family man. I have not received any salary this year. Fayose owes us up to six months yet he’s still promising. But since we don’t have any other power other than not re-electing him in the next general elections, we just have to keep calm for now. We have gone on the street, nothing happened. So, why not wait and see what will happen in 2018. A couple of days back, he went from one radio station to the other denying being paid N9 billion from Federation Account as if all the analyses of how he got the amount were not made. Most of us have gone back to our farms now. And those who have cars have turned them to kabukabu, especially those living at the state capital, Ado Ekiti or university campuses just to survive. We have handed him over to God.
I am a level 9 officer, I have not received any salary this year. It’s only workers from level 1 to 7 that have been paid till April this year. Osun government only owes them three months now. But all of us in senior civil service cadre are being owed seven months salaries now. Living in Osun state is like living in hell. What’s the essence of the bogus projects you’re executing when your workers are suffering? Most of us trek to work and retire to our farms in the evening to survive.
What Aregbesola is doing to the people of Osun state is an eye opener because we have all learnt our lessons now. But he’s not likely to reap it but what of his party. We’re all waiting for 2018, when another governorship elections will be conducted in the state. Nobody will vote for All Progressives Congress (APC) among us. We have all concluded on that. That’s why we have all decided to endure all the pains in Aregbesola’s government. If you want to know how people feel about his government, you can come to Osun state and shout APC! Then, wait whether you will hear change! Or try and shout Sai Buhari! Honestly, you will be lynched. That explains how the party has been rejected in the state at the moment. We’re all regretting that we voted APC and Rauf Aregbesola in particular. People of Osun state are really suffering. Instead of doing the right thing, he keeps embarking on propaganda. In the next general elections, I can tell you for the record, people have made up their mind to follow Otunba Iyiola Omisore. We are tired of all these lies and fake change agenda of Aregbesola and his party.
I work in a local government. It’s a lie that we’re not owed more than two months salaries. Even, if it’s true, is it good to allow the sweat of a labourer dry up before paying him his due. As I speak, I have not received a kobo this year. I only thank God that I learnt hair dressing which is what’s keeping the family going now because my husband is also a civil servant in the state and he’s on level 10. None of us has been paid. We complained in June last year, when the government started paying us half salaries every month, not knowing we’re not even in his agenda this year. Our children have been withdrawn to public schools. Even the teachers are also not happy with the government. Some children in Osun public schools are just there now. If you see the statistics of the research on education, Osun came 29th out of 36 states of the federation. That explains the impact of the misrule by the present governor of the state. He’s using civil servants’ salaries to execute projects while workers and pensioners are dying. But in all, we have resigned to fate.
Workers in Oyo state have not enjoyed Governor Abiola Ajimobi for even one month this year. The problem started since last year and he promised to look into our predicament, but he has not been able to do anything serious about it. We are owed five months salaries. I only collected January salary. Since, nothing has been paid to my bank account. Most senior civil servants are now kabukabu operators. Even, a lot of civil servants operate motorcycles for commercial purpose, all in the name of survival. We are really suffering in Oyo state. The explanation the governor gave the other time he addressed us was that the Federal Allocation is not enough to address the issue of the state and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is nothing to write home about and the government has a lot of projects to execute in the state. So, he would attend to our needs as quickly as possible. But till this moment, may be some among us only received alert for one or two months depending on their levels. I think we also need to appeal to the Federal Government to come to our aid in Oyo state.
Left to me, I have carved out my hope from civil service, but it’s not sensible resigning because no one knows what the next government will do. It’s like most state, don’t appreciate their workers. If not, I don’t know why at the end of every month there will be this complain or excuse about the payment of workers’ salaries as if they’re going to dash us. I was even shocked to read in a post this morning that Imo state, the only APC controlled state in the East is contemplating reducing the number of work days to three just because of its inability to pay worker’s salaries. I think this new government generally lacks policy direction. Things were not like this during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. It’s a shame to Buhari and his men at the federal level. In Oyo here, civil servants can’t boast of three square meals a day. We thought things would be better this year but now, the reverse is the case. Most of us can’t afford rent again. What kind of government are we running in Nigeria. I don’t understand.