By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Demola Akinyemi, Dayo Johnson, Ola Ajayi, Boluwaji Obahopo, Chidi Nkwopara & Peter Duru
•Kogi highest indebted with 15 months unpaid salaries
•FG owes workers N290bn promotion arrears
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.
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.