It is no longer news that the Nigeria’s economy has been on the down side in the past few months; the media is awash with the news that many state governments have not been paying their workers’ salaries, from one month to eight months in some of the states. It is also a known fact that all these state governors have blamed their inabilities to meet up with their responsibilities on the bad economy and the dwindling revenue accruing to their respective states from the Federation Account.
Unfortunately, some of the state governors have not displayed strength and energy in facing the poverty monster ravaging their states. It is also not news that at the moment, some states civil servants are on strike.
Different incidences had shown the level of degradation ongoing in the states. In Osun State for instance, a suicide was attempted by a local government staff that could not meet up his responsibilities as a father due to unpaid salary.
Most of the private schools in the affected states have been closed down due to the inability of the parents to pay their children fees, which makes it difficult for the schools to keep up with the financial obligation of running the schools.
As reported in some sections of the media, pastors now urge members of the congregation to bring food stuffs and money for those who have not been paid their salaries. An example is a recent report in The PUNCH of June 10, 2015 titled “CAN urges churches to donate food to Osun workers”. According to another online report, Ogun Senator, Buruji Kashamu also donated trailers of rice to Osun State workers. This and many more is a disheartening situation.
Group, parties, individuals have all protested and lay blames at the doorsteps of governors at the helms of affairs in the affected states. Most especially, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had been vilified by many for what they termed financial recklessness and wasteful spending. The Governor, on his own part, has expressed his concern over unpaid salaries just like every other person has; he has demonstrated that he meant well for the state.
As much as we would not want to be seen to be holding brief for anyone, the case of Osun seems to be more of a misplaced priority. It is apparent that what the Osun workers want is different from what the government wanted, though the government had made an initial mistake of not carrying the workers’ union along in the execution of its capital projects despite its dwindling monthly hand outs from the Federation Account.
However, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) wants to emphasize that there is nothing anyone would gain if a state collapses. As things stand now in Osun State, what needs to be done is for the Labour Unions to sit down with the governor and fashion out the most appropriate and acceptable means of resolving the crisis rocking the state. If the Osun people think that the governor’s projects and programmes are not in tandem with what their expectations, they should speak out.
Our Coalition is however against the removal of the one-meal-a-day for the primary school pupils in the state because many of the pupils that are not performing well academically are discovered to be lacking in adequate nutritious foods. As a matter of fact, it has been established that many of the pupils do not have access to balanced diet except from the meals they are served in the school. We would rather advise that the government, in order to reduce cost, look into the direction of the elitist projects e.g. the International Airport and roads.
In actual fact, there is nothing wrong with the government constructing multiple-lane Expressway but with the current financial reality, the roads could be done sections by sections, i.e. they may do two lanes that would be motorable for the people of the state. If the socket bridge could be completed, they should complete it to ease congestion and accidents at the junction where it is being constructed. They could also do double lanes in all the places where multiple lanes are still under construction so that this will reduce the hardship that people go through in transporting their goods.
States should also reduce the number of personal aides to public servants; every civil servant should earn pay by ensuring that most of them work in the productive sector where incomes are generated though income should not be generated indiscriminately at the expense of people’s peace of mind.
Government should also look into the area of Agriculture and get most of the civil servants engaged in the sector so that they would make the one-meal-a-day self-sustaining to the state. Any civil servant that is found to be unproductive, inefficient and superfluous should be sent to the training centers where they could be better engaged with a view to enhancing the state’s productivity and revenue generation.
More so, if the government has not yet established functional marketing boards, they should establish it now with a view to encouraging produce farmers to get busier with their occupation and enhance their sources of finance.
As a matter of urgency, we are joining other Nigerians, to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to also consider a bail-out plan for the states that owe salaries until they could get back to their feet.
SOURCE: Universal Reporters.