News; Kogi highest indebted with 15 months unpaid salaries

LAGOS —No fewer than 12 states are still owing their workers a

backlog of salaries and allowances, despite double bailout funds

from the Federal Government, with Kogi State owing as many as

15 months, Vanguard investigations have revealed.

SOME STATE GOVERNORS

Also on the list of heavily indebted states are Osun, 12 months;

Kwara, 11; Bayelsa, 7; Ondo, 7; Ekiti, 6; and Oyo, 6.

Others are Benue State, 4 months; Nasarawa State, 2; Abia, 2;

Imo, 2; as well as several months of unpaid allowances and

Ogun State, which owes over six months of unremitted

deductions from workers’ salaries for cooperatives, union dues,

among others.

This revelation came as Organised  Labour accused the Federal

Government of owing civil servants a whopping N290 billion

promotion arrears, lamenting that all efforts at making the

government pay had not yielded any positive result.

Giving an overview of the salary situations across the states,

Secretary-General of Association of Senior Civil Servants of

Nigeria, ASCSN, Bashir Alade Lawal, told Vanguard that some

states were still defaulting in payment, in spite of the huge

bailout received from the Federal Government.

He said:  “Osun State is owing one year, Ekiti is owing six

months, Oyo is owing six months, Ondo is owing seven months;

Beyelsa is owing seven months; Abia, two months; Benue four

months; Kogi 15 months; Nasarawa three months.

‘’Ogun can claim it is not owing but it is not paying deductions

from workers’ salaries in some cases, six, seven, eight months.

They are only paying net, not gross.  So, if you have paid net

and you have not paid all deductions, you have not paid full

salaries.

‘’As at today, Anambra is not owing, likewise Borno, Delta, Edo,

Ebonyi, Cross River, Rivers, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano,

Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara and

Sokoto.

“Anywhere in the world, you pay workers’ salaries first before

doing anything else. For example, in Osun State, some senior

staff are being owed over two years allowances. In order words,

you can simply say they are being owed one year salaries. What

are the explanations?  ‘’Bailout has been given about three times

and the last one with clear directive from the Federal

Government for the states to focus on salaries and pensions,

but Osun State government claimed that government was not

instructed to use the entire bailout to pay workers’ salaries.”

In Kwara State, Vanguard gathered that the government has not

paid staff in the parastatals in the state up to March, 2017 and

that the last time workers were paid was February 2017.

It was also learned that the local government workers are worse

off as they are being owed as many as 11 months, with the

exemption of Barutin Local Government which had paid up to

date because of its low personnel staff and the remote location.

Reacting to the development, Senior Special Assistant to

Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of kwara State on Media and

Communications, Dr Muideen Akorede, told Vanguard that the

state government had paid workers in state parastatals , their

salaries

He said:  “We are up to date, so we are not owing any of our

staff. If anyone has not been paid, such staff will be paid before

the close of this week. Though I don’t have all the details, you

may please contact Commissioner for Finance, Demola Banu,

for more information.”

Vanguard checks, however, confirmed that staff of state-owned

Kwara TV; Herald Newspapers, Radio Kwara, were paid their

March salaries last week.

In Ondo State, Vanguard also gathered that the state government

was owing six month salaries- August to December 2016 and

January 2017, though the new governor, Rotimi Akeredolu paid

salaries of August, 2016 as well as February and March 2017.

in is reaction, Chief Press Secretary to the governor , Segun

Ajiboye, said the immediate past government owed workers six

months ( August 2016 to January 2017) salaries but noted that

the present administration under Rotimi Akeredolu, had paid

February and March 2017 to workers on assumption of office.

He added that during the Easter period, Governor Akeredolu also

paid the arrears of August 2016 to workers to celebrate the

festivity

In Oyo State, investigations revealed that none of the workers,

both at the core civil service and local government, had been

paid their salaries up to March 2017, while some of the workers

are yet to be paid since December, last year.

Similarly, in Kogi State, workers have not been paid for many

months, as the staff screening embarked upon by the state

government since March, last year, has continued to hinder

many of the workers from receiving their salaries.

It was learned that aside from those who were on the cleared

list from the screening report released in December 2016, and

had received their salary up till February, over 40 per cent of

both local government and state workers have not received their

salaries since September, last year.

Reacting, yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the Kogi State

Governor, Petra Anyegbule said the state government does not

owe workers except those whose genuine status as state

workers are still in doubt and under verification as workers by

the screening appeal committee.

She said when their status is verified, all genuine workers will be

paid, urging them to exercise patience till when the screening

appeal committee will have concluded their assignment.

She said the civil service reform embarked on by the governor

must be total, adding that 96 per cent of those who had been

cleared have received their salaries to date.

Imo State workers have for long, been receiving varying

percentages of emoluments, against the approved wages. Civil

servants contacted, confirmed that salaries for the month of

March and April 2017, were outstanding.

They also affirmed that government only paid 80 per cent of

legitimate salary to the senior staff and 100 per cent to the

junior ranks.

Benue State government blamed its inability to regularly pay the

wages of workers in the state on the sharp drop in the allocation

from the Federation Account.

Speaking to Vanguard in a telephone interview in Makurdi, the

Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akaase,

said despite the decline from the Federation Allocation, the

Samuel Ortom-led administration had been able to reduce the

backlog from about six months which the government inherited

from the last administration to three months.

Akaase said: “The fact of the matter is that before the advent of

the present administration, Benue was getting an average of N6

billion monthly from the Federation Allocation.

“Unfortunately, since the coming to power of the present

administration, the government has been receiving an average

of N2 billion monthly while our monthly wage bill is over N4.1

billion.

“What it meant is that what we receive monthly cannot in any

way match our monthly wage bill, let alone having anything to

embark on developmental projects, so we are left with the

option of alternating salary payments by using two or three

allocations to offset a month’s salary.

“The situation today is that we are owing three months unpaid

salaries and we are hoping that the Paris Club debt refund will

help us clear at least two months of the backlog and from there,

we will be making progress.”

Meanwhile, ASCSN has said the Federal Government was owing

civil servants N290 billion promotion arrears, lamenting all

efforts to make government pay have not yielded any positive

result.

According to ASCSN’s scribe, the federal government is busy

bailing out states and local governments without its own

workers.

He said:  “You promote somebody from grade level 9 to 10, from

10 to 12, 12 to 13 and in some cases, from 13, to 14 and he or

she is still earning the salary of level 9. All these arrears of

promotions have accumulated to almost N290 billion.

‘’We have engaged this government from day one and up till

now, it has not paid. This is very callous and wicked. The sad

thing about it is that some are entitled to N50,000, N500,000

and things like that, depending on the grade level. Some have

retired now.

“We are not even asking the government to pay everything at

once. You can say, alright, let us start paying N70 billion and

before you know what is happening, you have cleared this bill. It

is like the government is not interested until you take to the

streets. When you go to the streets that is when you now see

the highest office in the land calling the Finance Minister to pay.

‘’You know you are owing and you are bailing out others, bailing

out the state and local governments, you are not bailing out

yourself.

“We have made noise, but government is not listening. So, we

are preparing and very shortly, we will do something to at least,

compel the government to look at our side. This indebtedness

to workers at the federal level dates back to 2007 and we are

talking about 2017.

‘’That is over 10 years. It is a precarious situation, but we are

hopeful that some of the actions  we intend to take will compel

government to address the issue.”

Efforts to reach the Ministry of Finance for comments, last night,
proved abortive as no one was ready to speak for the ministry.

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