© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
WHAT HAS CHANGED? Aregbesola pays workers full salary a month to election
ALMOST a month to the governorship election in Osun State, Governor Rauf Aregbesola has commenced the payment of full salary to all categories of workers in the state.
This is despite several denials by the state government that workers were not paid half salaries.
The government insists that workers in the state are paid based on modulated salary structure agreed upon by the government and the labour unions in the state.
The governorship election in the state has been fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold on September 22, 2018.
For the past three years, the state government has been paying workers salary based on what it called modulated salary structure which allowed certain categories of workers in the state to get half of their salary every month.
The modulated salary structure came into operation in June 2015.
By modulated salary structure, Osun State Commissioner for Finance, Bola Oyebamiji, explained that workers on levels 01 to 07, who constitute 67 per cent of the workforce, were paid full salaries, while those on grade levels 08 to 12, 25 per cent of the workforce, receive 75 per cent of their salaries.
He added that workers on grade levels 13 to 17, a mere 8 per cent of the workforce, as well as all political appointees, received 50 per cent of their salaries.
Osun State government has received a total of N24.31billion as bailout from the Paris Fund. And the government claimed it spent N22.7billion of the fund to pay workers’ salary and pensions.
In February 2018, the state government topped the list of 13 state governments that owed teachers’ salaries.
Osun topped the list with 28 months followed by Nasarawa, 26, Kogi 25, Benue 12 and Ekiti nine months.
The state Commissioner of Information, Adelani Baderinwa, on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, announced that the state government has commenced the full salary payment which he said started in July.
Local government workers and teachers, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Osun State chapter, Jacob Adekomi, confirmed they have received payment alerts from their banks, while he has also received an alert of full salary for the month of July.
Though the State government said it adopted a modulated salary structure to systematically clear the backlog of unpaid salaries and ensured that the government continues to pay salaries as and when due, the Labour Congress has already issued an ultimatum to embark on the action if the arrears were not paid.
“The state government has started paying us full salaries. But we are waiting for the payment of arrears of the balance of modulated salaries. We have already given them a 21-day ultimatum and we hope they will pay the arrears before the expiration of the ultimatum.”
Workers are owed up to 29 months arrears of the modulated salary.
Governor Aregbesola blamed crash in the prices of crude oil in 2014 on his inability to pay workers full salary, and also attributed the increasing wage bill of the state which rose from N1.1billion in 2010 to N2.2billion in 2012 to a unilateral and blanket minimum wage the Federal Government negotiated with the labour unions on behalf of states.
Oyebamiji said the modulated structure was necessitated by Aregbesola’s desire to provide massive infrastructure, develop the state economically and transform Osogbo into a modern state capital.
According to him, by October 2014 when the price of crude oil crashed, Osun State, like many others, started having a backlog of unpaid salaries.
He said many states became fiscally unstable due to a shortfall in federally collected revenues, hence the Osun State’s revenue projections suffered a setback, affecting its capacity to repay its debts.
“The government was confronted with two options – to continue to pay salaries of civil-servants using over 70 per cent of the state’s revenue (civil-servants represent less than 1 per cent of the 4.2 million population of the state) or provide the platform for massive investments and position the state on a path of sustainable economic development,” he said
FAAC ALLOCATION TO OSUN (JUNE 2015 to July 2018)
From June 2015 to July 2018, Osun State has received a total of N45billion from the Federal Government as its statutory allocation. Between June and December 2015, N40.42billion was allocated to the state from the federal allocation.
Allocation for the year 2016 dropped drastically to N5.9billion which was attributed to economic recession which the country was battling with and was characterized by the fall in the prices of crude oil and a wide range of pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta.
Meanwhile, allocation to the state in 2017 rose again to N10.4billion which was also a result of Nigeria’s exit from the recession in the second quarter and an increase in the oil prices in the international market. Currently, Osun State has received as much as N12.4billion between January and July 2018 from the Federal Government allocation.
The Governor, through the Commissioner for Information, Adelani Baderinwa said the state government was able to pay the full workers salary because of the increase in the prices of crude oil.
LIKE FAYOSE, LIKE AREGBESOLA
Aregbesola’s decision to release workers full salary just weeks to the governorship election followed the pattern of his state counterpart, Ayodele Fayose who allegedly paid workers in the state the sum of N3000 ahead of the July 14 governorship election.
The last time Fayose paid workers salary in Ekiti State was December 2017, but allegedly credited the account of civil servants in the state, with N3, 000 to encourage them to vote in the elections.
Osun State Commissioner for Information, Adelani Baderinwa denied insinuations that the payment of full salary by the state government was to motivate civil servants to cast their vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party in the next month governorship election.
But Akinbade Mojeed, a teacher in the state described it as a welcome development which will make them go to the polling unit.
“It is a good development. At least, we can go to the polling unit with joy and pay our children’s school fee without delay and celebrate Sallah,” Mojeed added.
On May 1, 2018, Fayose announced the promotion of 37,100 workers covering promotion arrears in the civil service from 2015 to 2017.
As if to copy Fayose, Aregbesola is also said to have given civil servants in the state double promotion without examination and has converted some from one cadre to another.
It was in May that the State Government said it has lifted embargo on conversion, advancement, promotion, confirmation and career progression of the state civil servants.
The state Head of Civil Service, Festus Oyebade, announced this in a circular in which he also said that the state government has agreed to pay full salary of December 2017 for the workforce. This was after the state civil servants had demanded for the full payment of their salaries on the occasion of Workers’ Day celebration.