‘We have been pauperized, nothing to celebrate’
By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Assistant Labour Editor
AS Nigerian workers today join their counterparts across the world to celebrate May Day, gloom, frustration, bitterness, anger, lamentation, and despair are not enough to describe their mood as not more than 10 states have fully paid workers’ salaries and allowances up to date.
Investigation by Sunday Vanguard showed that only Edo, Lagos, Delta, Ebonyi, Anambra, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Kano and Enugu states have paid their workers’ salaries and allowances up to April.
However, Rivers State has paid March salary and pension up to February, Borno State has paid up to March with the exception of its Hosing Corporation workers, while Ogun State, though paid salary, has neither remitted pension deductions from workers’ salaries for months, and has not paid gratuities since 2012.
Among the indebted states are Ekiti, Kwara, Kaduna, Osun, Plateau, Ondo, Abia, Bayelsa, Oyo, Imo, Kogi and Benue.
According to checks, while Ekiti State is owing not less two months salaries, the number of months owed pensioners were not known at the time of this report.
In Kwara, local government workers and the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, have not been paid between four and five months salaries, staff of the state Water Corporation have not been paid for the past six months, while other paratatals have not been paid in the last two months.
Similarly, workers and pensioners in Kaduna State have not been paid about seven months arrears, while Osun has unpaid outstanding salaries from July 2015 to January 2016.
Plateau State, pensioners are owed eight months, council workers, four months while other workers are owed three months.
In Ondo State, while pensioners are owed four months, civil servants are owed five.
In Abia State, civil servants are owed between two and four months, but workers of the state Health Management Board have not been paid since December 2015.
In the same vein, while civil servants in Imo State were last paid 70 percent of their salaries in January, pensioners cannot even remember when they were last paid.
Workers in Oyo State are owed between two and five months, their counterparts in Kogi are owed five months, while those in Benue State are owed three months.
According to Sunday Vanguard investigation, Edo State has been up to date in the payment of salaries and pension to its civil servants and pensioners.While the workers receive salaries before the 25th of every month, pensioners sometimes receive their pensions before workers.
Olasunkanmi Akoni reports that, ahead of today’s Workers’ Day celebrations, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has approved the lump-sum payment of leave allowance to all staff in the state’s mainstream civil service, local governments and the SUBEB with effect from May 2016. Head of Service, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, who announced this, explained that the approval was sequel to the agreement reached during a meeting with the Lagos State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, JNC.
She said, “Consequently, leave allowance, which is 10 percent of Annual Basic Salary, would henceforth be payable once annually and no longer on monthly basis. The payments would be in batches”.
Ademola stated that officers between Grade Levels 1 and 8 would be paid in May, officers between Grade Levels 9 and 12 would be paid in July; officers between Grade Levels 13 and 14 would be paid in September, while officers between Grade Levels 15 and 17 would get their annual leave allowances in October.
According to him, the gesture was in furtherance of the state government’s commitment to the welfare of its workforce, urging the staff to reciprocate government’s gesture by renewing their dedication and commitment to duty through improved service delivery to the citizenry.
“The above listed government functionaries are hereby enjoined to take note of this approval. I implore you to eschew disloyalty, indiscipline, nonchalant attitude and low productivity,” Ademola stated.
JIMITOTA ONOYUME reports that Trade Union Congress, TUC, confirmed that the government had paid workers March salaries.
Chairman of TUC in the state, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said the government had not remitted union dues and other related deductions, adding that TUC had commenced discussion with government on the issue.
Onuegbu also confirmed that the state government paid pension till February, saying: “Monthly salaries of civil servants in Rivers State have been paid up to March 2016 though there have been hitches in remitting some components of the salaries, i.e. contributory pension, union dues, federal mortgage housing etc. The union is engaging government on these issues.
“Pensioners, under the defined benefit (legacy) scheme, have been paid up to February 2016.
The Rivers State government has ceased to pay its statutory contribution or remit the deductions from the salaries of civil servants as stipulated by the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, law. “Our affiliate union has been making efforts to reach the Head of Service, HOS, on this issue.”
According to PETER DURU, in Makurdi, with the dwindling allocation from the Federation Account, Benue State government is grappling with the payment of workers’ salaries costing over N3.7billion monthly.
As at today, workers are being owed three months salary arrears covering February, March and April, while pensioners are owed two months.
Late last year, the state government was able to secure an agreement with labour in the state which allowed it to alternate the payment of salaries. The agreement entailed that the workers got paid once every two months.
BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO reports that labour is worried over non-payment of five months salaries and other benefits accruing to its members.
The NLC, in a communiqué issued in Lokoja, called on the state government to use the allocation it got for the month of February 2016 to offset the outstanding salaries for the month of December, 2015.
The communique, which condemned the payment of salaries, piecemeal, said the payment for October and November 2015 spanned three weeks for each month.
It equally called on government to direct the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to release the February allocation to local government areas to cushion the effect of non-payment of salaries to local government workers and teachers.
The report added pensioners have not received their pension since December 2015 aside arrears of gratuity.
According to Chidi Nkwopara, in Owerri, there is no doubt that there is a running battle between Imo State government and workers.The crux of the matter is on non-payment of salaries and allowances, as well as the palpable stagnation staring civil servants in the face. Government initially opted to downsize its workforce, which labour stoutly resisted.
Many workers were actually sacked and a number of others were retired prematurely.
The Imo workers situation became a running issue. At a point, the national and state leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, emptied into Imo State, in solidarity with the workers.
At the end of the day, government and labour came up with the 70:30 sharing formula, for the payment of salaries. Events have since showed that following this sharing formula, no worker has been paid his full salaries and, since this agreement, workers have been paid only once.
Some others, including Imo State University, Owerri, Ministry of Justice, Judiciary and some other establishments have not been paid in the past four months.
A recent visit to the State Secretariat along Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, showed that workers are disenchanted and frustrated.
Some of the workers who spoke to Sunday Vanguard said they were aggrieved and likely going to stay back home during the May Day celebrations.
They complained about hunger, inability to pay house rent medical and school fees of their wards and children. They did not equally see the rationale behind going to celebrate May Day.
DaudOlatunji reports, from Abeokuta, that both workers and pensioners in Ogun are not happy with the state government over outstanding allowances and deductions. The pensioners, who spoke through the State Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Bola Lawal, said they were not happy with government over its refusal to pay their gratuities. According to him, the state government had stopped paying gratuities since November 2012 and refused to increase pension. But workers, who spoke through one of the leaders of the union who pleaded anonymity, said the state government was owing them nine months deductions.
He said the workers were hopeful that the governor might give them a surprise package on Workers Day.
From Ibadan, Ola Ajayi reports that the leadership of the NLC and representatives of the state government have signed a memorandum of understanding on the mode of payment outstanding salaries.According to the state Chairman, NLC, Mr. Waheed Olojede, government and workers have agreed that any allocation received by government would be spent on payment of salary arrears. He said government had paid salaries till December 2015, while local government workers on levels 1-12 had been paid till February, adding that other levels from 13 upward would be paid as soon as government account was credited from the Federation Account.
BAYELSA: Samuel Oyadongha reports, from Yenagoa, that this is certainly not the best of times for workers in Bayelsa, owed four months’ salaries while retirees are owed seven months arrears. The situation is worse in the local governments where workers in some of the councils have lost count of the arrears owed them. Though government has assured the traumatised council workers that the N1.2billion bailout from the Federal Government for the councils was ready to offset some of the backlog of salary arrears owed them, it blamed the delay disburment on the ongoing verification to ascertain the actual staff strength of the councils.The state wage bill is about N4billion while the allocation from the Federation Account, after all deductions, has dropped sharply with the last put at N1.6bn.
The state Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd), on Monday, summed the Bayelsa situation thus, “It is sad that the state found itself in this situation. Bayelsa is not known to owe salaries. But with N1.6billion, it is physically not possible to pay.”
According to Anayo Okoli, in Umuahia, Abia workers and pensioners are groaning over non-payment of arrears of salaries and pensions. While the arrears gap for the workers are gradually closing up, that of pensioners is widening.For the workers, they are owed between two and four months, with workers of the state Health Management Board being the highest owed as they have not been paid since December, 2015, while ministry workers are owed one and two months.
Teachers, who embarked on three-day warning strike, were promised to be paid last week and if it had happened, it would have bridged their gap of their arrears to only one month. Though the state NLC commended the Ikpeazu government on its efforts to meet up with salary payment, it noted that it has a lot of work to do in the payment of pension. The pension arrears is over 19 months.
According to the union, the backlog of arrears covered between 2014 and 2015, and called on government “to to make plans for clearing the arrears”. According to the state NLC, retired workers of the Abia State University Hospital [ABSUTH] are the worst hit as none of their retired staff has been paid pension since 2014.
Dayo Johnson reports from Akure that the state government is owing pensioners in the state four months pension while civil servants are owed five months salaries. The state Finance Commissioner, Chief Yele Ogundipe, said pensioners had been paid till December last year. He added that civil servants were owed from December last year till date .
Marie-Therese Nanlong reports, from Jos, that the Plateau Chairman of NLC, Jubrin Bancir, said, “The situation of salary in the state basically is a little bit bad because, government is managing to pay January 2016 salaries. Local governments have paid up to February 2016, and are trying to pay March and April 2016.
“For pensioners, it is up to eight months now and that is to tell you how precarious the situation is. This is exactly where we are, but we have engaged government basically before now and I always take opportunity like this to explain to the entire citizens what is happening.”
According to Gbenga Olarinoye, from OSOGBO, controversies have been trailing the issue of payment of salaries and pension in the state as some workers and pensioners are claiming they are owed outstanding balance of July 2015 to January 2016.
The NLC in the state, led by Jacob Adekomi, said congress had reached agreement with the state government on the issue of salaries and pension. Adekomi’s statement on the matter read in part: “It has come to the notice of the state Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress that workers are not owed any outstanding balance of salary that has been received. This is a distortion of facts that is meant to cause disharmony between the state workers, who are currently pauperised and suffering, and the state government that has promised the entire work force and pensioners in the state of not only paying back the outstanding balance but also ready to compensate them for their perseverance, endurance and understanding when the economy of the state improves. “Therefore, congress is aware of some people’s, antics who are hell bent on causing crisis of confidence between the congress leadership and their members. It is the belief of the state Council of the congress that what workers in Nigeria as a whole and Osun State in particular are passing through will soon be a thing of the past.”
Peter Okutu reports, from ABAKALIKI, that Governor David Umahi, since assumption of office on May 29, 2015 has not owed workers a dime as he has made it a duty to pay salaries from the 15th of every month.
Also, the administration has on a regular basis ensured that pension is paid.
KADUNA: According to Luka Binniyat, in Kaduna, hundreds of workers and pensioners in Kaduna State are lamenting non-payment of emoluments, some stretching to seven months. The workers and pensioners claimed they had been verified and gotten their Biometric Verification Number ,BVN, from their various banks, but were yet to get paid. But the state government said that it had paid up to date all workers and pensioners in the state who had been fully verified and have their BVN. Speaking to Sunday Vanguard , Mr. Samuel Aruwan, spokesman for Governor Nasir El Rufai, said the state government got N2.4 billion from the Federation Account in April, but that its wage bill was N2.1 billion.
He added that the government inherited pension arrears of N14.3 billion with 18,265 pensioners on its pay roll.
NDAHI MARAMA reports, from MAIDUGURI, that Since Governor Kashim Shettima assumed the mantle of leadership in 2011 to date, his administration has been paying workers salaries on or before the 25th of every month.
According to him, civil servants in the state receive their salaries without hitches, only that of April 2016 that civil servants are yet to receive due to the ongoing verification of staff by a committee set up by the governor.
From investigation, only workers who have not been paid their salaries are those working in the state Housing Corporation where they are paid from the revenue they generate.
But as a result of insecurity, they found it very difficult to generate enough to sustain their salaries. Sources said they have not received salaries for three months.
Demola Akinyemi reports, from Ilorin, that Kwara State Chairman of NLC, Yekeen Agunbiade, said workers in the state will be celebrating today’s May Day with mixed feelings as a result of unpaid salaries.
According to him, SUBEB and council workers “are being owed between four and five months, while workers in the state Water Corporation are owed six months, even as other parastatals are owed two months salaries.”
According to Rotimi Ojomoyela, from Ado-Ekiti, except the state government clears two out of the four month arrears it owed workers, today’s May Day celebrations will be devoid of the usual fanfare.
Workers in the state are being owed four months salaries, while that of pensioners stand at five months..
Festus Ahon reports, from Asaba, that, despite the economic crunch, Delta State government is not owing workers salaries. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as part of his commitment to the welfare of civil servants, ensures regular monthly payment of salaries. Okowa, in line with his prosperity agenda, is also up and doing in ensuring that the state government meets its commitment to pensioners with a view to clearing their pension arrears and entitlements.
Francis Igata reports, from Enugu, that public servants are paid on the 25th of every month. This practice has been in place since the immediate past administration of former Governor Sullivan Chime and sustained by his successor, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The present government inherited about seven month’s pension arrears. Payment of arrears of pension is ongoing following the receipt N4.207 billion bail-out to the state from the Federal Government. . The governor had, on receipt of the money, set up tripartite committee, comprising of labour leaders, government representatives, and pensioners union to oversee the disbursement of the fund.
Abdulsalam Muhammad reports, from Kano, that workers and pensioners have been enjoying steady and regular pay as and when due since the inception of the current administration in the state.
The development followed increased Internally Generated Revenue ( IGR). The state government augments its allocation from the Federation Account with N1.3 billion monthly to pay workers salaries.
According to TOM MOSES, in Uyo, ahead of today’s May Day celebrations, the state NLC has urged the state government to resolve the issues of unpaid pension and non-payment of promotion arrears to its workers.
Chairman of the NLC in the state, Ukpong Etim, drew the attention of Governor Udom Emmanuel, to the fact that the State Universal Basic Basic Education Board was allegedly hoarding N395, 308,077.83, meant for that purpose.
Etim said that the money could have assisted the state government to settle the 2011/2012 promotion arrears to primary school teachers.
He explained some of the pending issues between labour and the state government to include the N775m set aside for the payment of promotion arrears, and in custody of SUBEB.
Of this amount, he said N379.691, 922.17m was used to pay 2009/2010 promotion arrears, leaving a balance of N 395,308,077.83 for the payment of future allowances of promotion to primary school teachers
He therefore urged the Akwa-Ibom State “government to call on SUBEB to bring out the money, to clear the backlog of promotion arrears of 2011/2012 to primary school teachers, while also ensuring that March 2016 teacher’s salaries are promptly paid”.
Emma Una reports, from Calabar, that the state NLC may today honour Governor Ben Ayade with the “Workers Friendly Governor” award, in recognition of regular payment of salaries.
The governor ensures that civil servants are paid in the third week of every month following an agreement with some banks to raise the money to pay the salaries while awaiting the allocation from the Federation Account.
However, the council workers are paid two weeks after the payment of civil servants salaries.
Pension is also paid a week or two after civil servants have been paid, but gratuities have not been paid since 2011.