Unpaid Salaries: Plateau, Abia, Benue Gove-elect, Others Face Workers’ Fury - 9japarrot


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Sunday 14 May 2023

Unpaid Salaries: Plateau, Abia, Benue Gove-elect, Others Face Workers’ Fury


By Nurat Uthman

Seven newly-elected governors will face angry workers who are owed several months of unpaid salaries by their predecessors, investigation by Sunday PUNCH has revealed.

Some of the incoming governors, apart from dealing with unpaid salaries of active workers and retirees, will also be faced with the challenges stemming from the failure of their predecessors to implement the nationally agreed minimum wage in the midst of rising inflation, escalating prices of goods and services, and dwindling purchasing power.

Following the governorship election that was conducted in 28 out of the 36 states of the federation on March 18, 2023, a total of 16 governors-elect emerged to take over from their predecessors, who will complete their constitutionally approved second term in office, while a first term governor lost his re-election bid to the candidate of an opposition party.

However, seven out of the 28 newly elected governors will be faced with the uphill task of paying several months of withheld salaries owed by their predecessors.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that as of Friday, May 12, 2023, some state governors owed more than two years worth of salaries.

In Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, who emerged as the only governor-elect of the Labour Party and will take over from Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party on May 29, will be faced with the challenge of repaying over 30 months’ salaries arrears to workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress recently declared an indefinite strike in the state over the huge indebtedness to the workers.

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement before the commencement of the strike, stated, “The NLC is angry over no less than six months’ salary and pension arrears owed core civil servants and over 30 months’ salary and pension arrears to other public workers in the state.”

Recently, the Nigeria Medical Association accused Ikpeazu and governors of Imo, Hope Uzodimma, and Benue, Samuel Ortom, of giving health workers in their states “sleepless nights” over unpaid salaries.

In Benue State, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress will not only take over the reins of power from the PDP’s Ortom, he will also be confronted by aggrieved civil servants.

Ortom, one of the governors flayed by the NMA for giving health workers sleepless nights over unpaid salaries, allegedly owes teachers at the local government level 11 months’ salaries; while other local government workers are owed 10 months’ salaries. At the state level, workers are owed eight months and pensioners 38 months, according to the Benue State NLC.

Reports have it that members of the state House of Assembly are also owed six months’ salaries, which led to the suspension of plenary.

In Plateau State, the incoming governor, Caleb Muftwang of the PDP, will be forced to settle outstanding salaries owed by his predecessor, Simon Lalong of the APC. The state is currently on shutdown due to the indefinite strike declared by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress.

In Taraba State, almost all categories of workers are being owed. From lecturers in the state owned university, to teachers. The Taraba State NLC had during the 2023 Labour Day celebration urged the governor to settle the six months’ salaries of local government employees, and five months for primary school teachers before handing over to the incoming administration. 

The governor, Darius Ishaku will be handing over to his party man, Kefas Agbu.

In Zamfara State, findings by our correspondent revealed that the outgoing governor, Bello Matawalle, currently owes workers two months’ salaries.

Matawalle of the APC, who lost his re-election bid, has been urged by the NLC and the TUC in the state to settle all outstanding salaries before handing over to Dauda Lawal of the PDP.

In Cross River State, the incoming governor, Bassey Otu, will face angry environmental workers in the state.

Recently, the environmental workers protested the failure of the government to pay their four months’ salaries.

In Rivers State, the outgoing governor, Nyesom Wike, has been accused of owing teachers of staff schools of the state owned tertiary institution for seven years.

Wike, who will be handing over to his party man,  Sim Fubara, has been urged by a coalition of civil societies organisations in the state to offset the outstanding workers’ pay before the inauguration of the incoming administration.

The National Vice-President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, called on all the affected governors to clear “their tables” and pay all outstanding salaries before handing over to their successors.

Etim, who is also the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants said, “As they are leaving, they should clear their tables and pay all outstanding salaries. These governors need to know that salary is a right and not a privilege. Failure to pay will also be a huge burden on the incoming administrations.

“Also, the governors have all set up transition committees; they must include what they owe in their handover notes. Let everybody know. However, in order to avert industrial crises, they  must settle the outstanding salaries and other entitlements. They should do this to redeem their images. They must clear the salaries.”

An official of the NLC in Taraba State, Joel Wayas, told our correspondent that the organised labour was looking forward to the incoming administration as regards the payment of outstanding salaries and arrears owed some workers and retirees.

Wayas noted that while the workers had given up hope on the outgoing administration, they were looking forward to the incoming administration of Agbu Kefas of the PDP.

“There are thousands of retirees who have not been captured on the payroll and the issue of minimum wage is still there. Well, I don’t think the outgoing administration can do anything again. However, we are looking forward to the incoming administration. That is the reason why we voted for them in the first place. We are hopeful that they will heed the plight of workers in the state,” he stated.

The Chairman of the NLC in Benue State, Terungwa Igbe, said the workers would be happy if the outgoing administration paid the outstanding salaries before the governor’s exit.

Igbe also called on the incoming administration to prioritise the welfare of workers in the state.

He said, “You know what brought in this incoming administration is the failure of the outgoing administration to pay the salaries of the workers. We are urging them to be worker-friendly, let them prioritise the welfare of workers in the state.

“One of my prayers is also that the outgoing administration clears all the outstanding salaries it owes. It is very necessary to do that.”

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