Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, was not particular about parties when he asked Nigerians to vote out governors who failed to perform in their first terms, especially in payment of salaries.
Mr Buhari, who spoke with the Hausa service of the Voice of America, said he saw no justification in governors collecting bailout funds from the federal government and still failing to pay wages.
“I wonder how these governors are able to sleep, knowing that they have refused to pay workers their wages.
“These workers have families to cater for, they pay rent, pay school fees, hospital bills and food for their families,” Mr Buhari was quoted as saying.
The president said the Nigerian constitution gives governors the independence to spend their funds without interference and that is why some are abusing that privilege by refusing to work for the people.
With elections just around the corner, Mr Buhari may just have sent the right signal to Nigerian workers, some of whom have become impoverished due to non-payment of salaries.
Relying on a data from BudgIT, a civic organisation concerned with participatory governance we’ve made a compilation of states where salaries are being owed.
In October 2018, BudgIT published a list of states yet to fully offset the outstanding amount owed pensioners and civil servants despite series of N1.8trillion bailouts from the federal government.
1. Abia: As at October 2018, Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia State, was owing its secretariat workers and secondary school teachers five months’ salaries and pensioners 18 months. Mr Ikpeazu is seeking re-election in Abia having won a return ticket unopposed.
In October 2015, some months after his inauguration, Mr Ikpezau, of the PDP, cleared all salary and pension arrears going up to eight months in some parastatals to become an instant darling of workers.
But that may not be happening now. Also to the excitement of workers, the governor in December 2018 paid the month’s salaries and pension just before Christmas but there is no record of his payment of backlog as indicated by BudgIT.
2. Adamawa: BudgIT data says that Adamawa State as at October 2018 owed its secretariat workers four months’ salaries, midwives four months, secondary school teachers two months and pensioners 13 months.
Asides these, the state is also owing its local government workers. To offset some of these, the State House of Assembly in November 2018 granted approval to Governor Muhammadu Bindow’s request to source for N5 billion loan from UBA Plc to pay salary arrears of the local government workers.
Mr Bindow, the governor, secured the APC ticket to seek re-election in Adamawa.
3. Akwa Ibom: Emmanuel Udom, governor of Akwa Ibom State, inherited a huge pension debt from his predecessor but managed in 2018 to pay up to the end of 2015.
BudgIT, in October, says the state was owing twelve months pension but latest reports shows the government has not paid pension from January 2016 till date.
Mr Udom, who has secured the PDP ticket for 2019, does not owe any active worker.
4. Bayelsa: The state government has been paying its workers up to date but it is yet to clear a three and a half months’ salary arrears since 2016, BudgIT data shows. The arrears were incurred during the 2016 recession which saw a fall in revenue to states.
In March 2019, Seriake Dickson, the governor, will again vie for the governorship seat under the flagship of PDP.
5. Benue: According to information provided to BudgIT, the amount owed Benue workers vary by levels but workers in levels eight to ten are owed between four and 11 months salaries.
Samuel Ortom, the governor, in August 2018, said he inherited over N69 billion of unpaid workers salary arrears, pension and gratuity and over 70 billion for other engagement of government.
After dumping APC, Mr Ortom won the PDP return ticket in Benue.
6. Borno: BudgIT documents says the state government owes only two months’ pension arrears accrued due to verification exercise. Having spent eight years in the reign, Kashim Shettima, the governor, is vying to go to the senate in next month’s election via his party, APC.
7. Delta: The state is also one of those owing huge pension. It was quoted as 36 months by BudgIT and there is no report of payment as of the time of compiling this list.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP will battle it out with other candidates in March 2019 elections.
8. Imo: In 2016, Imo workers entered an agreement with the state government on payment of 70 per cent salaries with the exception of those on grade levels 01-06 that receive 100 per cent.
The reason for the percentage salary was attributed to the national economic recession.
However, in May 2018, the workers protested and demanded full payment. It could not be ascertained whether Rochas Okorocha, the governor, has started paying full salaries. BudgIT says the state government owes up to two months salaries and 34 months pension as at October 2018.
Mr Okorocha is aiming to go to the Senate in 2019 on the APC platform.
9. Kogi: In Kogi, Yahaya Bello, the governor, pays secretariat workers only 50 per cent of their salaries while midwives receive only 40 per cent. Despite this, salaries and pensions being owed workers ranges from 2 to 13 months’ arrears, according to the report.
Under the APC, Mr Bello is seeking to return to Kogi government house in March.
10. Kwara: BudgIT data says Kwara government owes secondary school teachers four months’ salaries as at October 2018. However, the outgoing governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed, has completed two terms and is not eligible to seek re-election.
11. Ondo: In November 2018, the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Ondo State, Tayo Ogunleye, said the government had paid six out of the seven-months salary arrears, with the promise to pay the remaining one month before the end of January.
Before then, Ondo State owed its workers 20 per cent of salary arrears. The governor, Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC, would not be seeking re-election until 2020.
12. Osun: With N16.6 billion Paris Club refund, the Osun State Government in September 2018 announced payment of workers’ salaries, leave bonuses and pensions covering four months.
This is however, minute, compared to what the government owes.
For up to 30 months, the state government under Rauf Aregbesola, has been paying workers above level seven 50 per cent of their salaries.
Mr Aregbesola completed his second term and handed over to his former Chief of Staff, Gboyega Oyetola, both of the APC.
13. Plateau: The state made the BudgIT list for owing up to 16 months pension. The governor, Simon Lalong, is seeking re-election on the APC platform.
14. Taraba: BudgIT says Taraba owes midwives one month and pensioners two months arrears as at October 2018. The governor, Darius Ishaku, will not be able to seek re-election until 2020 as the governorship election in the state last held in 2016.
15. Zamfara: As at October 2018, the state government owes secondary school workers four months and pensioners two months’ arrears, according to BudgIT data. The governor, Abdulaziz Yari is not qualified to seek re-election, having served two terms.
Commenting, NLC General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, said the labour union has also asked Nigerian workers to vote out governors who are owing.
“We have asked members to reject governors who are owing salaries and that they should make sure they collect their permanent voters’ cards and use those cards wisely by voting against the ant-workers governors; those owing salaries and those who are carrying out anti-labour obnoxious policies. Nothing has changed, that remains,” he said.
Mr Ozo-Eson also recounted steps taken so far by the union to ensure payment.
“In the past, we have done various things, we have even picketed states. You’ll recall we went to a number of states. We were in Imo, we occupied occupied for days until eventually certain agreement was made. We picketed Benue, we had cause to go to Nasarawa. We went to Oyo. We’ve engaged states owing salaries. As a result of those engagements, some of them have retrieved their steps and met their obligations. Those that have not so done, we campaign against them and their re-election.”
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