The Federal Government says its intervention in the payment of salaries of workers in the states is an indication of its commitment to the welfare of workers.
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, stated this when he received, at the State House, leaders of organized labour in Nigeria who held a match for good governance and fight against corruption in solidarity with government.
He said government made the first intervention in the payment of workers’ salaries immediately President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015 when twenty two states owed salaries of workers and has followed it up with two more interventions since then.
“We came into office in May 2015 at a time when oil prices were beginning to dwindle, but salaries were owed. Some were owed six months salaries, eight months salaries, which showed that even when oil prices were high salaries were being owed. When we came, President Buhari decided that he would ensure that the salaries of workers across the states are paid. And that is why we had the first bailout.”
He said that government was giving the bailout to states when it was losing 60% of its revenue on account of the restiveness in the Niger-Delta.
Vice President Osinbajo said the subsequent bailouts followed and the last was paid from the Paris Club Refunds, which are sums of money owed to the states since 2005 and nobody had paid those sums of money.
He said government was paying the monies “even at the time of recession, at a time when our revenue is at all time low, we paid Paris Club refunds totalling over N500billion.”
Management of resources
Osinbajo emphasized that the issue was not just about payment of these monies to states for salaries.
“You can imagine a situation where when there were resources salaries were not paid, all of these things we are talking about were not made. But at the leanest time in the history of this country, we have made those payments, ensured that salaries of workers even in the states were paid,” Osinbajo.
The Acting President said government is also intervening through the social programmes it has initiated to enable people to be employed directly.
He said government is addressing questions on unemployment, explaining that 200, 000 out of the 500, 000 targeted for the volunteer programme, EmPower, have already been engaged.
Osinbajo also restated that the commitment of the Buhari’s administration to fighting corruption, calling on all labour leaders to speak up against corruption.
The labour leaders led by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr. Ayuba Waaba, and his Trade Union Congress, TUC, counterpart, Mr. Bala Kaigama, presented an eighteen-point charter of demands to the Acting President.
He said government was “investigating over $15billion in defence contracts; external reserve is $30. That’s half of the external reserves of the country,” and wondered how the country could survive with that extent of looting of its resources.
He commended the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, for joining in the fight against corruption.
The President of the NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, and his TUC, counterpart, Mr. Bala Kaigama, said the match was sequel to the one they organized last year to show solidarity with government in the fight against corruption.
The labour leaders said they were concerned about the issue of good governance “because the heart of our challenge as a country is the issue of near lack of good governance and the systemic corruption that is bedevilling our system.”