Across the country, tension has continued to build between the organsied labour and state governments over how the recently released second tranche of the Paris Club Loan refund are being disbursed.
While some workers in some states are threatening a showdown with their governments, a few states, however, have managed to forge a measure of compromise with their workers.
The Public Service Joint Negotiating Council (PSJNU), Abia State council, has expressed its displeasure over government position towards workers and pension salaries in the state.
Rising from a meeting between labour union and the state governor, the state PSJNU chairman, Comrade Chris Okoro, described as unacceptable several pains and trauma civil servants and pensioners were passing through in the state.
He said the N5.7 billion allocated to Abia State was a far cry from the expected N12billion and called on the state government to find means of paying workers, noting that it was not indicated anywhere that the Paris club loan refund would be used to pay salaries.
He said available records indicated 17 months pension arrears; 28 months of salary arrears at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH); four and five months arrears of primary and secondary school teachers, respectively; six months arrears at the local government level; two months arrears of civil servants’ salary and non-payment of gratuity to pensioners from 2000 till date.
Meanwhile, the state chairman of NLC, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, has disclosed that government had dedicated the entire second tranche of the Paris club refund for the payment of salaries and pension arrears.
Delta pensioners, council workers, others to smile —Okowa
The latest N10b Paris Club refund released to Delta State may generate fewer quarrels between the state government and the organised labour as it was learnt on Friday that the state government had already allocated the fund to core areas needing urgent attention.
The areas of priorities, as gathered, included pension arrears, gratuities, local government workers salaries and union deductions, cooperatives and check up dues owed workers in the state.
Confirming the receipt and government’s plans for the N10b, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the state government, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in a phone chat with Saturday Tribune, said N2 billion will go to the local government areas in the state, N4 billion to offset outstanding deductions and the remaining N4 billion to offset pension arrears and gratuities.
Oyo gov’t should keep to FG’s 75 percent directive —Labour
Labour unions in Oyo State have urged the state government to adhere to the use of 75 percent of the N7.9 billion it got as its share of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund as stipulated by the Federal Government to clear salaries arrears.
State chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the call against the backdrop of the state government’s resolve to use 72 percent of the recently received fund.
NLC Secretary, Mr Bayo Titilola-Sodo and his TUC counterpart, Mr Falegbe Mayowa, in different conversations with Saturday Tribune, claimed that no meeting was held between the labour movement and the state government on how the fund should be disbursed to state and local governments.
The state government, through the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, had disclosed that 72 percent of the N7.9bn Paris Club fund would be committed to salaries and salary-related payment, at both the state and local government levels.
Sharing in line with guidelines and conditions —Plateau govt
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has disclosed that the sharing of the N5.644 Billion it got as the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund would be in line with the guidelines and conditions given by the Federal Government.
Giving a breakdown of how the second tranche would disbursed, Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Finance, Mr Sani Yahaya, said 60.06 percent of the total amount would go to state, while the local government areas would share 39.94 percent.
He further disclosed that, out of the state share of N3, 389, 833,880.68, the total sum of N1,694, 916,940.34 would be allocated to the payment of salaries and pension.
He said the 17 local government areas of the state have been allocated the sun of N2,254,245,174.73, adding the 50 percent of the amount would be spent on salaries and pension while the remaining 50 percent would be expended on capital and recurrent expenditure at the local government level.
We’ll share N4.7b refund between state govt, LG —Fayose
The Ekiti State government and the organised labour and other stakeholders in the state have reached a consensus on how to spend the Paris Club loan refund, AS Governor Ayodele Fayose disclosed that the N4.7 Billion refund will be shared between the state and local governments.
At a meeting held on Thursday evening, Governor Fayose said the state government would get N2.9 Billion, while the 17 local government areas would share N1.8 Billion.
The workers were represented by the NLC, headed by Mr Ade Adesanmi; NULGE, led by Mr Bunmi Ajimoko; teachers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT); representatives of the state-owned institutions of higher learning; Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) and political office holders at the state and local government levels, among others.
“At the end of the day, we got N4.7 billion and the state is to get N2.9 billion and the 16 local governments to share N1.8 billion. In the first refund, we got N8.8 billion that was shared with state getting N5.4 billion and the local governments getting N3.4 billion…
“All observations about how to disburse the money are to be directed to members of the committee and they will decide on the areas of priority. We are going to give members of the committees at state and local government levels some time to deliberate and come back on how to disburse the funds,” he said at the meeting.
We’re not involved in disbursement in Kogi —Labour
The Kogi State government is not involving the organised labour in the state on the disbursement of the N6.7 billion it got last week as its second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund to the state.
Saturday Tribune gathered that, like it obtained with the disbursement of the first tranche and the bailout fund that accrued to the state, the government did not involve the leadership or representatives of the workers in the disbursement of the latest release.
Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state, Comrade Ranti Ojo, said the workers knew nothing about the arrangement for the disbursement of the fund.
“We don’t know anything, government has not invited us, unlike other states where government involved the labour unions, government in Kogi is doing it all alone,” he said.
We’ll use it to take care of workers, capital projects —Akeredolu
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has disclosed that the state’s share of the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund will be used to take care of workers’ salary and some capital projects.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Segun Ajiboye, made this known while speaking on how the refund would be disbursed, assuring that the present administration in the state would continue to give priority to the welfare of the workers, as they remain the engine room of the government.
All efforts to speak with the leadership of the workers union were not successful, but one of the officials of the workers union in the state informed Saturday Tribune that the immediate past government made some efforts to settle salary arrears but for the disappearance of the state Accountant General at the twilight of the administration.
We’re undecided on how to spend refund —Edo govt
The Edo State government is yet to take a decision on how to spend the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund as the state, unlike many other states in the federation, does not owe any worker on its payroll.
However, and according to the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, the money may be spent to offset the arrears of local government workers, just like it did with the first tranche.
He said, “I can’t tell exactly how the money will be spent, but I can assure you that just as the first tranche was spent as directed by Mr President, the second day tranche will be judiciously spent.”
He said the first tranche could not completely offset the arrears of the local government workers, hinting that the second tranche could be spent the same way after a thorough verification of the local government workers.
There are however two categories of people who are saying that the second tranche of the Paris Paris refund should be used to offset the entitlements of local government workers and pensioners.
Osun”ll pay remaining salary arrears as soon state’s finance improves —Aregbesola
Osun State government, on Friday, said the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola is committed to paying the remaining arrears of salaries owed some categories of workers as soon as the financial condition of the state improves.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderiwa, who made this known during a telephone chat with Saturday Tribune, said, “the payment of arrears for July and August, 2015 is a strong signal that we are committed to paying the remaining salary arrears to the concerned workers”.
The decision to expend N5.1billion on salary arrears, leave bonus and pension followed the recommendation service by the Comrade Hassan Sunmonu-led Revenue Allocation Committee which recommended that the arrears of July 2015, balance of leave bonus of 2015 and July 2017 salary and pension entitlements be paid from the N6.3 Paris club refund.
However, the Osun State Joint Public Service Negotiating Councils I, II and III took an exemption to the claim in some quarters that the state government does not owe arrears of workers’salaries and pensions, noting that Governor Aregbesola must have been quoted out of context over such a claim.
Osun JPSNC I, II and III made this known in a statement dated July 28, 2017 and jointly signed by the state NLC chairman, Jacob Adekomi, INC chairman, Bayo Adejumo, TUC chairman, Debo Adetola and their secretaries, Rufus Adeyemi, Richard Oyegbami and Akin Olatubosun, respectively.
“It must be stated for record purpose that the government is not indebted to officers on GL 01-07 as well as pensioners whose monthly pension falls under N20,000.
“However, officers on GL o8-10 were collecting 50 per cent of their monthly entitlement between July 2015 and August 2016 and only had their monthly salary reviewed to 75 per cent in September 2016, while other categories of officers have been earning 50 per cent of their monthly salary and pension between July 2015 and now.
“The government has however indicated commitment to the payment of the arrears of salaries and pensions, as the arrears of salaries and pensions for July and August 2015 has been approved for payment to officers on GL 08 and above as well as pensioners earning more than N20,000.
“Stemming from the above, we want to opine that Mr Governor was quoted out of context as he has, at different for a, promised to effect the arrears of salaries and pensions and to effect this has commenced the payment by giving approval as indicated above,” the statement read.
Kwara workers insists on 75% for salaries
Workers in Kwara State have urged the state government to use 75 per cent of the Paris Club refund, to offset the backlog of workers’ salary.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed had approved the release of N1 billion for payment of local government workers’ salary and N312 million for tertiary institutions in the state, but the workers, under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) said they wanted more money out of the refund for backlog of salary owed them.
NULGE, in a statement made available to newsmen in Ilorin, also said the state government should not credit the said sum into the account of the local councils unless it met with 75 per cent of the N5.12 billion which they claimed was agreed upon between governors and the Federal Government before the release of the refund.
The statement, signed by Comrade Oloruntoba Ibikunle reads: “The state council of NULGE received with rude shock and utmost dismay the release of the sum of N1billion from the second tranche of the Paris refund where Kwara was allocated N5.12 billion.
“The announcement is quite unfortunate, disgraceful and a flagrant display of gross insensitivity to the plight of the already impoverished staff that are dying by the day due to the effect of nonpayment of workers’ salaries.
Ogun govt released N3.4bn to offset 6-month outstanding deductions —Labour
The organised labour in Ogun State said that the state government has released N3.4 billion to offset outstanding deductions for six months.
This was disclosed by the state chairman, NLC, Comrade Hakeem Ambali and the state chairman, JNC, Comrade Abiodun Olakanmi, in separate interviews with Saturday Tribune, in Abeokuta.
Olakanmi explained that labour leaders were invited by government for briefing after the latter had decided on the sharing formula and attested to the fact that the money had been released to the banks for payment to workers.
Speaking in the same vein, Ambali, confirmed that some banks had been paying the workers, even as the government said it had equally released N1.1bn to offset three months deductions of workers in the local government, while the remaining N1.2bn would be expended on state expenditure.