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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

N338b loans excite workers in Osun, Oyo, Kwara, Ekiti

Workers in Kwara State – one of the first states to
enjoy the N338b Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-
guranteed bailout loan – have started getting their
backlog of salaries.
The payment began on Monday, with scores of
excited civil servants queuing at banks in Ilorin, the
state capital, to receive their salaries.
Twenty-seven states are to get the loans, which are
to be disbursed by 14 banks.
But as at yesterday, many of the states were still
fine-tuning the paperwork to enable them access
the money.
Most of the states allayed workers’ fears that the
cash could go into financing projects, leaving
salaries unpaid. Officials promised that this would
not be the case.
Labour leaders in Oyo State said yesterday that
they had reached an agreement with Governor
Abiola Ajimobi to use the N26.601b being expected
to clear all salary arrears.
The state has four months outstanding salaries to
pay workers in its employ on Grade Levels 1 to 12.
Senior officers on Grade Level 13 and above are
hoping to receive five months salaries.
The government last month paid April salary to
workers on Grade Levels 1 to 12.
The local Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC)
Chairman Comrade Waheed Olojede, said labour
leaders held a meeting with the governor where it
was agreed that the fund would be spent on
clearing outstanding salaries.
He said labour would continue to be on its guard to
ensure that the funds are not diverted to other
purposes.
Olojede said: “We have been on guard in Oyo State.
We read in The Nation yesterday (Monday) about
the sums of money approved for states. We were
happy that Oyo State was among them.
Immediately after reading the story, we sought an
audience with Governor Ajimobi over it and he met
all the labour leaders in the evening. The meeting
was successful.
“The governor confirmed to us but informed us
that the money was yet to be accessed due to the
conditions yet to be met. He, however, promised
that all the conditions would be met soon and the
fund would be accessed.
“We also agreed that as soon as it is released, it
should be spent on salaries of workers.”
Some of the conditions for accessing the loan
include:
resolutions of the State Executive Council
authorising the borrowing;
State House of Assembly consenting to the loan
package; and
issuance of Irrevocable Standing Payment Order
(ISPO) to ensure timely repayment.
In Ekiti State, the government and labour disagreed
on whether the state had accessed the loan or not.
Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Youth
and Sports, Lanre Ogunsuyi denied that the state
had received its own share.
Ogunsuyi, in a telephone chat, explained that the
money was still domiciled in the Central Bank of
Nigeria (CBN) and “every state is just applying for it
now”.
He insisted that the money was not a bailout as
believed in many quarters but the commonwealth
of all the federating states in the country.
Ekiti State’s share is N9.604 billion.
NLC Chairman Ade Adesanmi could not be reached
for comments, but Trade Union Congress (TUC)
Chairman Kolawole Olaiya maintained that the
government had received N9. 6 billion.
Olaiya, who spoke with our correspondent on
telephone, urged the Fayose administration to
ensure that the outstanding September 2014
salary, 2014 and 2015 leave bonuses are paid to
workers.
The TUC boss praised the Buhari administration for
the package, which he said to rescue states from
insolvency, noting that it was good news to workers
in Ekiti who expect the state government to do the
“needful”.
He said: “The Federal Government is desirous to
ease the burden on workers and I don’t think
anybody can hide under any guise to punish
workers. The Federal Government meant well and I
want to commend the Buhari administration for
this bailout because the workers’ conditions are
bad.
“The bailout has been paid (to Ekiti) and I want to
rely on the facts published by The Nation on
Monday. We have been hearing that Ekiti had just
received the money.
“It is just unfortunate that most of the labour
leaders in Ekiti are not supposed to be in Labour.
They are conniving with the present government to
rob workers of their reward and they are
contributing more to the plight of workers.
“They are not supposed to be labour leaders, they
are usurpers. September salaries, 2014 leave
bonus and 2015 leave bonus have remained
unpaid.”
A leader of the TUC in Osun State, Comrade
Akinyemi Olatunji, said there was no indication that
the cash had come to the state.
Olatunji said the labour unions were monitoring
the release of the funds through their various
national secretariats.
According to him, workers in the state had only
collected half of their January and February
salaries so far.
The state government said it was waiting for the
N34.9 billion allocated to Osun to drop into the
state account after it had been approved by the
Central Bank.
Former Commissioner for Information and
Strategy, Sunday Akere said the payment of
workers’ salaries would begin as soon as the funds
drop into the state’s account.
Akere, who disclosed that N9 billion of the N34.9
expected was for local government workers’ salary,
said a staff audit was on, pending the receipt of the
bailout.
Ondo State has not collected the N14.68b bailout.
Sources at the Government Secretariat, Alagbaka,
Akure said the government was awaiting the funds.
A cross section of workers, who are being owed
three months salaries arrears, said they were
eager to hear that the money had been accessed.
Christian Ita spokesman of the Cross River State
Governor, said: “We are waiting for the money. We
have not received it yet, but we are expecting it any
moment from now. We are borrowing the money
to pay back debts we owe. The state is not owing
civil servants’ salaries and that is because we
borrowed money to pay them. So right now, we
need the bailout fund to pay the debts we owe.
“Since Governor Ben Ayade came on board, he has
made sure salaries are paid on time, so the state
needs to pay back those loans. the Federal
allocation when it comes is less than what we need
to pay salaries. So, even when it comes, we are in
deficit.”
The N1.28 billion share of Bayelsa State from the
CBN-backed loans is meant for cash-strapped
workers in the eight local government areas.
Governor Seriake Dickson has been paying salaries
of civil servants and pensions despite the dwindling
revenue from the Federation Account.
But the chairmen of the eight local government
areas are owing arrears of workers’ salaries.
A principal officer of a local government area, who
spoke in confidence, said the governor promised to
get the loans for the local governments.
He said: “There has been crisis in the local
government areas over inability of the chairmen to
pay salaries. The chairmen even appeared on the
floor of the House of Assembly to explain the
reasons for their financial crisis.
“But the governor, who was not happy with the
plight of the workers, promised to secure the CBN
bailout loans for the local government employees.
We are happy the money has come. He is a worker-
friendly governor and that is why we are
supporting him”.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel
Iworiso-Markson, confirmed that the money was
meant for local government workers.
“It is meant for local government because they are
the ones owing salaries”, he said.
The N14,152 billion bailout loan the Abia State is
expecting will be spent on settling
outstanding staff salaries, emoluments and
entitlements to pensioners.
The remaining, if any, will be used to provide
infrastructure.
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to governor, Mr.
Godwin Adindu, said the fund had not been
accessed though there were indications that the
disbursement will soon start.
Adindu said: “The state’s economy will stabilise
once the salaries are paid and it will cushion the
effects of hardship being experienced by workers.”
Abia State labour union chairman Comrade
Uchenna Ebigwe said the fund should be spent to
pay outstanding salaries, pensioners and other
emoluments of workers.
Ebonyi State government said it had not got the
money.
Commissioner for Finance Dennis Ekumankama
said the ministry was still processing it.
He said: “As I’m talking to you now, I am in Abuja,
trying to process the fund for the state”
He, however, declined comment on the modalities
for the fund’s disbursement.
The State House of Assembly has given the
government approval to take the loan –
N4.6 billion loan.
The workers are owed two months salary arrears
(July and August).
But the government has refused to pay the workers
with the salary table used by the last
administration.
The table with about 50 per cent increase in the
salary of the workers was implemented by the last
administration following a strike.
Umahi, then the PDP candidate, encouraged the
NLC to continue with the strike and promised them
100 per cent increment it he won.
But Umahi, who paid the June salary with the new
structure, has vowed to revert to the old salary
structure from July.
The governor told a PDP stakeholders meeting at
the party’s secretariat in Abakaliki that after paying
the 50 per cent increment in their salaries for June,
the state had a balance of only N35 million.
According to him, he will pay the 50 per cent
increment only when the economy improves.
He said: “After paying June salaries, we were left
with 35 million naira; I will not pay the demand of
workers for increment in salaries but will increase
their pay only when the economy improves. They
fought for us so much but they should not be gods
to us. It is not that there is money and we have
refused to pay.”
But the NLC chairman disputed the governor’s
claim.
He said the state government, after paying
workers, will have enough money for projects.
“If the government does not pay us with the 50 per
cent increment, it will not be acceptable to us,” he
said.
Delta State is expecting N10.036 billion, which will
be spent on salaries.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi
Okowa said the funds will soon be received.
Although Delta State is not owing salaries, it is
owing over N15 billion in arrears of pension
The N3.167 billion bailout loan will be used by the
Edo State government to pay local government
workers.
Only three council chairmen, Abdulmalik Afegbua
(Etsako East), Joseph Ikpea (Esan Southeast) and
Jimoh Ijegbai (Owan East), have paid salaries.
The other 15 are owing workers between five to 10
months’ salaries.
Members of the National Union of Local
Government Employee (NULGE) embarked on
several weeks of protest over the unpaid salaries
until Governor Adams Oshiomhole ordered the
council bosses to forfeit their security votes and
allowances to pay salaries.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation,
Mr. Louis Odion confirmed that the loan will enable
the defaulting local government areas pay their
workers’ salaries.
There are indications that Plateau State
Government is yet to cash the bailout loan.
The government is expecting N5.7 billion.
NLC chairman Comrade Jibrin Bancir said: “The
state government has always told us they have not
received their own share. When the shares accrued
to all the state were published on Monday, I called
the accountant general of the state and he told me
he was on his way to the CBN in Abuja to process
it.
“Not withstanding, the state government has
cleared four of the seven months arrears inherited
from the last administration. The government has
always carried us along on the cash flow and
financial challenges.
“Governor Lalong may not have fulfilled his
promise of paying the salary arrears twice in a
month, but he has demonstrated a high level of
transparency in the financial management of state
resources and we appreciate his financial
challenges.”
Apart from the seven months’ salary arrears, there
is also unpaid pension of state and local
government retirees.
Local government workers are also being owed two
months’ arrears of salaries. Local government
teachers are being owed one month salary.

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