The reduction of revenues accruing and the weight of debt and overdraft currently affecting fiscal fortunes of Kogi State and the negative impact on the performance and growth of the State is a worrisome development. Partly as a result of this, the state government has proposed Salary Cuts for the Workers. This unfortunate development was confirmed during the May 1st Worker’s Day 2020 speech delivered by the NLC State Chairman, Comrade Onuh J. Edoka.
In the Last Four (4) Years of Governor, the Yahaya Bello Administration, public sector workers in the State have been at the receiving end, ranging from Non-Payment of some workers’ salary, the worst hit being the Local Government staff and teachers who suffered severe salary cuts and yet to be paid the difference as promised by the state Government.
It remains worrisome and unbelievable, that less than three months into the second tenure, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello is undertaking another salary cuts, which now includes all categories of workers, such as Medical and Health Workers, who are currently at the front line in in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, this is happening at a time both the Federal and some state government have increased allowances of medical and Health workers across board, not even to contemplate salary cuts. Kogi State cannot afford another round of exodus of Medical and Health workers as witnessed during the first tenure of Alhaji Yahaya Bello administration, considering that it is not easy to replace them at a time they are in high demand both nationally and globally.
We call on Kogi State workers to reject this unnecessary cuts in their Salaries and Allowances, and call on them to demand for prompt payment of outstanding leave Bonuses and promotion allowances which have not been paid for several years in Kogi State.
While workers are being subjected to salary cuts, Kogi state legislators are enjoying full pay even when they are known to be idle. It is an undeniable fact that the current legislators in Kogi State, was inaugurated in the first week of June, 2019 and the numbers of seating is far less than the number of days they have remained at home. It is also noted, that all the Bills passed since the inauguration of the present legislative session are Executive Bills without any of them sponsoring Private Members’ Bills to be passed into Law. More worrisome of it all, is the alleged that one of the Honourable members in recent times, has engaged in dishonourable act of beating up a government driver, rather than make laws for the good people of Kogi State. Yet this legislator turned boxer never made himself available to represent Kogi State at National Sport Festival, or represent Nigeria at the Olympic and win medal for the glory of the Kogi State and our Country.
We therefore call for a corresponding slash and reduction of their Salaries and allowances, if the Kogi worker’s salaries must be cut to the same proportion in the face of current reality.
It is equally troubling that the various appointees in the State, many of whom have no meaningful contribution to the economic development of the State continue to collect unjustifiable salaries. Indeed, it is most embarrassing that, one of the appointees of the state government was recently alleged to have assaulted a Beauty Queen in Kogi State. Contrary to the expectation of the Kogi people and the promise made by the Governor, this undeserving public officer is yet to be investigated, thereby elevating impunity to the level of governance.
It is also on record that since Yahaya Bello emerged as the governor of the state in 2016, no Local Government Elections have been conducted. After the dissolution of the unelected local government council, one would have expected that a democratically elected council will be put in place as demanded by Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is bizarre that instead, the governor went ahead again and re-appoint some of them as SSA on security to the governor on various local government councils. This has not happened anywhere considering that many of them lack basic training and background on security matters. It very curious that this is happening in a state that has produced several retired military personnel and police officers.
We call for a slash in their salaries and allowances as Kogi State Workers cannot be made a scapegoats as they are the creators of the wealth that politicians fritter away with reckless abandon.
It should be recalled that it is now exactly one year that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammudu Buhari, signed into Law the minimum wage of 30,000. It is regrettable that the Kogi State Government is yet to conclude the negotiations on how and when to pay, but yet proposing to reduce the salaries of Kogi Workers. What an injustice of a monumental proportion?
*Idris Miliki Abdul*
*_Executive Director_ ,*
Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR),
Lokoja, Kogi State,