Abdullberqy U Ebbo
Head of ICT,
Govt House Minna.
A report has been making the rounds that salaries of workers in Niger state are about to be slashed by 70%. This would’ve been dismissed as a mischief if it hadn’t been carried in the mainstream media.
There was no point in time that the government announced reduction of workers’ salaries to the public, even though it’s no longer news that the nation is at an economic crossroads and that has resulted into reduced allocations to all states from the federal government.
Niger State is burdened by a wage bill of over two billion Naira monthly, and the state hasn’t been receiving up to that amount as was the practice in previous years.
In my interaction with the Commissioner of Finance, Niger State, he restated this economic challenge and how the state has been borrowing to pay workers, following the inadequate revenue allocations from the Federation Account.
While workers in many states haven’t been paid for months, Niger State has remained exceptional. It stands out as sensitive to the plights of workers in the past eleven months and hasn’t owed its workers.
What the media reported as a decision to reduce wage by 70% was the inconclusive meeting between representatives of the State Government and the Organised Labour. The two parties discussed the challenge of sustaining payments of the current wage by the state and the possible means of tackling it in order to avoid a scenario where workers are owed for several months, as is the case in many states.
At the last meeting, leaders of the Organised Labour who are not unaware of the state of the nation’s depleting revenues, were asked for suggestions and given several options as representatives of the state’s civil servants. The meeting ended without any decision taken by both parties as they asked for more time to consult before the next meeting scheduled to take place at 4.00 PM on Monday, May 30.
The meeting further highlighted the cordial relationship between Governor Sani Bello-led administration and the state’s Organised Labour and for any decision likely to be taken in tackling the shortfalls of revenues, there will be a guaranteed transparency and harmony between the Governor and the civil servants.
If there’s anyone who’s concerned about sacrifices for the wellbeing of workers, it is Governor Bello himself. Early this year, salaries and allowances of political appointees were reduced to save the cost of governance. This is aside from the restructuring and reduction of the number of ministries in the state to cut down overheads.
So, report of salary reduction by 70% is false and should be disregarded as such by all well-meaning Nigerians.
What’s happening in Niger State now are actually sincere efforts of the government and the Organised Labour to devise creative means of overcoming the impact of dwindling revenues in order to control the state’s rising debt profile.
May God Help our leaders to do that which is right and good.