Governors order pay cut as Coronavirus takes toll on economy

AS the effect of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic bites harder on the Nigerian economy, some state governors are taking measures to reduce the impact, including slashing workers’ salaries.

In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde disclosed plans to slash salaries of senior political appointees by 50 per cent.

He made this disclosure while addressing top labour leaders in the state at Labour House, American Quarters, Ibadan on Friday.

The governor also said he had gotten the cooperation of the state lawmakers to cut their salaries by 30 per cent in order to reduce the effects of COVID-19 on the state’s economy.

“The next couple of months are going to be difficult ones, but we are working hard to mitigate the shocks to our economy.

“Already, we have secured the cooperation of the legislature to take a 30 percent cut to their monthly allocations, while senior government appointees take 50 percent pay cuts. This is because we feel that the economic safety of the workforce must be prioritised,” Makinde said.

Similarly, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has asked the workers to donate part of their salaries into the state’s purse.

El-Rufai on Sunday April 26, announced that state public servants earning, at least, N67, 000 will have 25 per cent of their salaries donated to the state and state senior appointees; including commissioners, permanent secretaries, special advisers and heads of agencies will each donate N500,000 in April.

In subsequent months, El-Rufai said senior appointees will each donate 50 percent of their salaries.

“Career public servants earning a net pay of N67,000 and above aftertax will also donate 25 percent of their pay monthly whilst the quarantine conditions are in place,” El-Rufai’s media adviser Muyiwa Adekeye said in a statement.

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According to the governor, the move is to ensure that the millions of people living in the state are adequately supported during this COVID-19 period.

However, El-Rufai’s plan to cut 25 per cent of career public servants salary does not go down well  with healthcare workers who have the high risk of contracting Coronavirus.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has criticised the governor, demanding he reverses his decision.

”NMA hereby calls on the State Government to as a matter of urgency  to avert crisis in the health sector of Kaduna State by immediately paying all health care workers the balance of 25% of their April 2020 salaries,” the group said in a statement signed by Stephen Akau Kache, the State Chairman and Ifeanyi Aghadi Kene, the State Secretary of NMA.

Also, Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in an article published to mark Labour Day warned governors against cutting pay of workers in this period.

Oshiomhole said cutting salaries in this COVID-19 period can only bring about a vicious cycle of poverty, adding that state leaders “be sensitive to the poor condition of workers during this difficult time.”




     

     

    “Cutting wages is most unhelpful in the circumstance. It’s like asking an anaemic patient to donate blood to save the lives of other patients in need of blood transfusion,” Oshiomhole said.

    He thus urged governors to rather reduce cost of governance instead of cutting wages or retrenching workers.

    In the same vein, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has waded in,  kicking against cutting or stopping workers’ salaries at this period.

    “In reciprocation of the enormous sacrifice made by workers, we urge employers of labour to show solidarity with the sacrifice of our workers and people by ensuring wage protection, income support and social inclusion at these trying times,”  Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President said at a press conference marking the 2020 International Workers Memorial Workers’ Day in Abuja.

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    Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

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