….Says ‘I can’t watch workers suffer’
By Dayo Johnson
GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, yesterday, explained why his administration resorted to borrowing to pay salaries of workers in the state.
Akeredolu had vowed not to borrow money to augment the payment of workers’ salaries.
The governor also directed payment of the salaries to striking doctors in the state, after he met with their leaders in Akure.
Painting a gloomy picture of the finances of the state, at a meeting with striking doctors, Akeredolu said: “The most painful is that we now borrow money to pay salaries, because it got to that point where we cannot allow our workers to be seen as suffering, due to no fault of ours.
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“If it is to bend backwards to keep our workers afloat, we shall not hesitate, and that is why we are reviewing our earlier stand that we would not borrow to pay salaries.
“The danger, however, remains that we are eating our future, as more goes into the recurrent than the capital as it were.
“As regards the salaries of those who have not been paid, I can assure you that the money is intact, and it has been kept in an escrow account.
“But you need to know that we paid all but one of your salary arrears of seven months that we met.”
He said the stalemate that led to their industrial action was a result of the lack of understanding from a section of their association which was encouraging segregation of the workforce in terms of payment of salaries.
He assured them that the Commissioner for Finance will commence the process of payment of their salaries with immediate effect.
He said: “I thank God that we can come together as brothers, sisters and stakeholders to talk about the Ondo project.
“We all have fundamental roles and responsibilities to our people. The only difference is the distribution of positions as given by God.
“My role cannot be more important than yours as doctors, because I cannot save lives but you do.
“Honestly, if language permits, you are not unhappier than me about what we have been made to contend with financially in the state. We know it is a global issue but we are more concerned about how it affects us.”
Earlier, the chairperson of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, in Ondo State, Dr Stella Adegbehingbe promised to always put the welfare of residents of the state at heart.