The Forum of Finance Commissioners in the country, yesterday, criticised state governors who are owing workers’ salaries, saying that no governor had any excuse for owing, even as the three tiers of government shared N388 billion for May expenditure.
A Cross section of Workers Match Pasts, during the 2013 Workers Day Commemoration by The Lagos state Council of Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Theme: 100 Year of Nationhood, The Challenges of National Development, held at Onikan Stadium, Lagos. Photo: Bunmi Azeez
The Chairman of the Forum and Commissioner for Finance in Ebonyi State, Mr. Timothy Odaah, who spoke at the end of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, in Abuja, told journalists that those owing should be held responsible by the workers and the public adding that such governors should have made payment of salaries their priority, rather than spending state funds on electioneering campaigns.
About 12 states have been branded as not workers’ friendly by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, following complaints of inability to pay salaries or the new National Minimum Wage. Some of the states owing workers’ salaries include Bauchi, Plateau, Ondo. Kogi and Benue. Kogi State is reportedly embroiled in crisis with workers over alleged attempts to cut workers salaries by 40 percent while civil servants are currently on strike in Bauchi over alleged inability of the state government to pay arrears of salaries owed workers.
Osun State is also said to be owing several months of salary arrears.
Also, Enugu State has not reportedly paid retired primary school teachers’ gratuity and pensions in the last 13 years just as workers in the government- owned Daily Star newspapers, water corporation and the state- owned transport company, ENTRACO were being owed several years of unpaid wages.
Odaa said, “Why should states be owing workers’ salaries when they have been regularly collecting their statutory allocations from the Federation Account? We hear of some states owing 11 months, nine months, seven and so on. What have they been doing with their allocations? And workers have been looking at them!
“Payment of salaries is not an achievement. It is not a thing that a governor would pay when he likes. The salaries are built into the allocations that the states collect every month and so the governors are supposed to pay regularly as a priority. So why should they not pay? Governors must pay salaries. Salaries must be a priority.
“Look at Ebonyi State, as poor as it is, we are not owing workers. Even the workers agitated for an upward review last month and our governor even approved it, paying according to the federal structure. So why should any state owe and where has the money the states have been collecting gone to?
“The press should take this up and give them the heat. They were able to fund their elections and then workers are being owed up to this moment.“
Earlier, the Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, had lamented the drop in the federal revenue owing to deliberate acts of sabotage by unscrupulous individuals.
“Frequent shut down and shut-in of trunks and pipelines at Terminals continued to impact negatively on crude oil revenue”, he said.
Federal revenue in April which stood at N282.062 billion was a N32.982 billion decrease when compared to the March revenue of N315.044 billion.
The minister who chaired the Jonathan administration’s last FAAC said that the distributable fund was boosted by an exchange gain of N24.786 billion; a refund of N6.330 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC , as well as N 72. 154 billion earnings from the Value Added Tax.
The Federal Government got a Lion’s share of N 142.941 billion; state governments- N103.089; while the local governments got a total of N76. 917 billion.
Oil producing states got an additional N 23. 109 billion representing 13 per cent derivation from oil revenue in the month under consideration.