We’re not owing arrears – Dickson, Obaseki, Okowa, Aregbesola, El-Rufai
Bayelsa, others still owe workers’ salaries, NLC insists
By Clifford Ndujihe, Victor Ahiuma-Young, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Peter Okutu
THE 36 governors under the umbrella of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, yesterday, denied reports that President Muhammadu Buhari gave them an order to pay workers their salary arrears before Christmas.
Meanwhile, there was a discordant tune between the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State on whether President Buhari ordered those salary arrears should be paid before Christmas.
While Okorocha said the order from the President, on Monday, was to clear the salaries with the expected payment of 50 percent Paris Club balance, El-Rufai said the Paris Club refund was not enough to offset the salary arrears especially for states that were owing as there was no additional money to be given to such states apart from their fair share of the refund.
This came on a day that some governors said they were not owing salary arrears with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC insisting that some governors are owing. While Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa said they were not owing, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said he was not paying workers half salary and had been paying regularly what the state government agreed with workers.
Buhari didn’t order govs to clear arrears
The NGF, in a statement by Abulrazque Barkindo, head, Media and Public Affairs, said, “no mention of all workers arrears was ever made by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The statement quoted the President as saying, ‘For Nigerians without sources other than their salary, I am concerned that workers should be able to pay rent, school fees, buy drugs and take care of their families. I am so much concerned that people should have something to eat for Christmas.’
It continued: “the governors had appealed to the president to once again authorize the Finance Ministry and other officials to hasten the payment of the remainder of the Paris and London Club loan refunds as they had factored the monies into their 2018 budgets.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s instruction that the money be paid before Christmas, however, draws its background from the series of delays in the previous disbursements to the states by the Finance Ministry, which by commission or omission had exacerbated and indeed increased the number of months that workers are owed salaries.
“For example, the first bailout that President Buhari approved was not paid until October, four months after the president had given approval for the money to be paid. It was the same practice with the first tranche of the Paris-London Club repayment, which was approved in mid-2016 but took until December 2016 to hit the states’ accounts.
“It is imperative to add that the Paris–London funds were legitimate funds of the states and not loans as several sources had thought.
“Barring any such happenstances, however, governors, who are equally very worried about their workers’ plights, are ready to wipe away workers tears by paying their emoluments before Christmas.”
The governors pledged to work assiduously towards ensuring that they make workers happy by paying their emoluments before the commencement of the Yuletide season.”
Bayelsa denies indebtedness to workers
Picking holes in media reports that it is owing 10 to 16 months salary arrears, the Bayelsa State Government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, described the people behind the story as ”faceless interests.”
“What was published about Bayelsa State was false. It is also unfair that no move was made by the writer to contact the media unit before such a story was published”, the Iworiso-Markson explained.
He continued: “It is important to note that the Bayelsa State Government is among the few states that have paid salaries up to date in 2017. A blanket report in the media that the state is owing imaginary 10 to 16 months salary is loudly suggestive that workers salaries are not being paid as and when due. This is untrue, misleading and unfortunate.
“As a matter of state policy, the Henry Seriake Dickson’s administration does not tamper with local government allocations. This fact must be stressed because of the falsehood being peddled in some quarters that the state is owing local government workers…
“The fact of the matter is that the Bayelsa State Government is not owing 10 to 16 months salaries as claimed in the report. All the salaries of workers in he state civil service have been paid in 2017. There is no outstanding.
“However, the state owes salary arrears of four and a half months from last year when the economic recession was at its peak. The government was compelled to pay half salaries at the time for six months because of the issue of paucity of funds caused by the recession.”
Edo State workers are paid as and when due – Govt
Reacting yesterday, Edo State government said it was not owing workers, noting that state employees receive their salaries on or before the 26th of every month.
In a statement, the state government said no worker in its employ was owed a dime, and that this was a testament to the efforts by government to ensure that workers were well motivated for optimal service delivery.
The statement read: “The state government has ensured that workers are paid as and when due. We are pursuing all-inclusive reforms in the state civil service to ensure that workers deliver optimum service to the people. The payment of their salaries is one of the first steps to achieving this and we have been faithful to that mandate.
“We have met these obligations right from the previous administration up till now. In Edo State, we prioritise the welfare of workers, both those in active service and even pensioners.
“We have not only paid salaries, we have also met obligations to pensioners. In fact, we have paid N6.2 billion to both state and local government pensioners from January to September.”
“So, we are surprised by the publication listing us as one of the states owing pensioners and workers. We believe it does disservice to the good work that the Godwin Obaseki-led administration is doing in Edo State.”
We’re not paying half salary in Osun – Aregbesola
Also, the Osun State Government restated that it is not paying half salary to the generality of its workers.
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Adelani Baderinwa, the state government said: ”For the purpose of emphasis, explanation and clarification, workers in the state of Osun are paid based on modulated salary structure agreed upon by the government and the labour unions in the state.
”The government wishes to state that contrary to the report by a national daily on Tuesday, it does not owe any workers, if the modulated salary structure agreement is anything to go by…It is only a section of workers on grade level 13 and above that receives painfully 50 percent of their salaries based on agreement between the government and the labour unions.
”Outside that category of workers on grade level 13 and above, no other receives half of his or her salaries and the workers in this category are just about 20 percent of the state’s workforce.”
Kaduna State is not owing salaries or pensions
The Kaduna State government said yesterday it had no salary and pensions arrears, adding that ivil servants in the state usually get credit alerts of their salaries around the 25th day of every month.
The government in a statement signed by Finance Commissioner, Suleiman Abdu Kwari, also said the state operates the Contributory Pension Scheme which took effect on January 1, 2017.
According to him, retirees on this scheme are already drawing their benefits, from a scheme that has accumulated about N7billion in the retirement savings accounts, RSAs, of workers.
He said public servants that exited the service on the old Defined Benefits Scheme were drawing their pensions monthly, adding that between June 2015 and October 2017, the state government had N17.26bn to defined benefits pensioners.”
Ebonyi not owing workers’ salaries – Uzor
Also, the Ebonyi State Government, in a press release by Governor David Umahi’s Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, said it is not owing salary arrears noting that since the inception of Governor Umahi’s administration the state has never failed to pay workers’ salaries on or before 25th of every month and teachers’ on the 15th of every month.
Uzor also disclosed that a state that just released workers’ promotion and leave allowances in addition to 13th-month salaries could not have been said to be owing salaries.
“It is no longer news that Ebonyi state government under the able leadership of Governor David Umahi is not owing any salary but went as far as clearing a backlog of workers’ salaries since 2006, pensions and gratuities which he inherited upon his emergence as governor in 2015.”
Delta not owing workers salaries
In like manner, Delta State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, said the state is not owing 8-14 months salary arrears.
”For the records, Delta State Government is not owing her workers salaries. We have paid all our workers to date and we have also augmented salaries for Local Government workers and primary school teachers under their purview… Despite the economic downturn, we have consistently paid our workers salaries even as we have recorded giant strides in infrastructure development.”
Bayelsa, others still owe workers’ salaries, NLC insists
However, the NLC, yesterday insisted that Bayelsa, Benue and Imo states were still owing workers salaries.
General Secretary of NLC, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, who told Vanguard that most of the states are owing listed Zamfara, Kogi, Ondo and Osun states as those still owing salaries, as of yesterday.
His words: “I cannot readily provide the detailed list of the states that still owe salaries, though the data is being updated every now and then. As at today, Benue State is owing, Kogi State is owing, Bayelsa State is owing Zamfara State is owing, Imo State is owing, Ondo State is also owing.”
On September 19, in Abuja, at the National Executive Council, NCE, meeting of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba named 10 states still owing workers salaries despite the bailouts and Paris Club refunds.
Wabba lamented that some state governors had refused to effectively utilise both the bailout funds and the Paris Club refund given to them by the Federal Government.
According to him, “10 out of the 36 states are particularly guilty of the offence, while six of the 10 states were in terrible situation. We have promised to name and shame them. The congress has directed all states chapters whose members are owed more than three months’ salaries arrears to declare an industrial action and we have promised to name and shame them. The states include Imo that has been paying workers’ salaries in percentage and has not declared utilization of the bailout fund and Paris club refund.
“”They paid 40 percent pension to their pensioners without their consent and provided a form for them to sign under duress. That is not allowed by law. We have Bayelsa which has between five to 10 months’ arrears, Ondo is owing between four and six, Ekiti (five to eight), Benue (five to eight) and Kogi which is the worst case scenario. We have three categories of workers in Kogi. We have 40 percent that is being paid up to date, we have 25 percent that had not been paid between eight and 16 months. We also have another 25 percent that has not been paid between eight and 21 months. In all the sectors, they have categorised the workers into three categories,” he said.