Nigeria: May Day - Ondo, Ekiti Workers Chide Governors Over Unpaid Salaries

Nigeria Labour Congress.

Workers in Ondo and Ekiti states on Tuesday charged the state governors, Rotimi Akeredolu and Ayo Fayose, respectively, to pay their salary arrears as they are currently suffering under poor economic conditions.

The Chairman of the Ekiti State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Raymond Adesanmi, in his May Day address, urged Mr Fayose to prioritise the payment of salaries and pensions.

He also told the governor that workers and pensioners were experiencing serious hunger as a result of eight months of unpaid salaries by the state government.

The venue of the May Day rally at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti, was scanty, a situation attributed to the financial conditions of the workers whose salaries had not been paid for several months.

"Workers in the state are hungry, so I call on the governor to pay outstanding salaries owed the workers which include five months for the civil servants, eight months for the local government workers and six months for higher institutions in the state," Mr Adesanmi said.

The labour leader also called on Mr Fayose to pay gratuity and pensions for all the senior citizens that were affected.

The governor had announced the promotion of 40,100 workers covering three years promotion arrears in the civil service between 2015 and 2017.

In his remarks, Mr Fayose called on the workers to challenge the federal government not to oppress Ekiti State in the scheme of things, saying the federal government was "sitting on the commonwealth of the state".

He said the labour leaders should look into the books of the federal government for transparency in governance, particularly as regarding allocation to states.

"Every state is suppose to get its own share of the extra dollars on the sales of oil in the country, but the FG is not giving the state its due allocation," Mr Fayose said.

Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose

"Your interest would be my priority until my last day in office; I would not leave the state as a debtor governor in Ekiti."

In Ondo State, the NLC chairperson, Bosede Daramola, called on Mr Akeredolu to pay their three months salary and 20 per cent balance of October 2016 and leave allowance of 2017.

She also called on the state government to as a matter of urgency, sanitise the educational system, saying that adequate attention should be given to all the states technical schools for total overhauling and repositioning.

Mrs Daramola also used the opportunity to call on the Ondo State House of Assembly to identify with the aspirations of Nigerians by displaying the courage to vote "yes" for local government autonomy in Nigeria.

However, the governor said it was not "the right of the workers to be paid leave bonuses", saying it would be paid at a more convenient time.

The remark by Mr Akeredolu angered the workers, who expressed their anger by walking out of the arena where the May Day rally held.

The workers also chanted songs as the governor made efforts to deliver his address.

Their efforts to move closer to the governor to further vent their anger was curtailed by security operatives present at the event.

"I need not remind workers that this administration inherited a huge debt portfolio when it assumed office last year," said Mr Akeredolu.

"It is also a notorious fact that a heavy burden of salary arrears of seven months was on the State. We promised to offset all arrears owed. We have been able to keep the promise, partly.

"Four months out of the seven months' salary arrears owed have been paid so far. We have paid salaries till date.

"The current state of affairs is depressing. We are far away from our destination, even if we have found the right path. The journey to redemption is arduous, no doubt. All of us must show sufficient commitment to drag the state out of poverty.

"The practice of near-total dependence on Federal Allocation must change. Other states can afford to be complacent, not our dear Ondo State whose people's industry contributed immensely to the country's GDP in the past.

"It is a tragic irony that some people now refer to our State as a civil service enclave where governance has been reduced, virtually, to payment of salaries, allowances, grants and subventions.

"The retrogressive attitude of over-dependence on oil revenue has had its debilitating effects on the polity. It has exposed even the workforce to a charge of indolence. It has rendered claims based on perceived entitlements suspect.

"We appeal to workers to adopt a new attitude towards the business of governance. It is only this progressive partnership which holds a true redemptive promise," the governor said.

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