Civil servants decry non-utilisation of bailout funds for workers’ salaries

Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, the President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) .

* Call for immediate probe of states that diverted funds

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has condemned state governments non-utilisation of the bailout funds to pay workers’ salaries and pension arrears.

This was the position of the union at a two-day National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the ASCSN in Enugu State.

According to the National President of the congress, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, efforts by the union and the labour movement to remedy the address the plight of the workers have proved abortive.

The union lamented that the outstanding arrears have persisted despite Federal Government’s release of bailout funds and Paris Club refund to the states to clear arrears of several months’ salaries to their workers.

The Guardian leant that many states still owe workers from five and 10 months’ salaries, including arrears to pensioners. Some of the worst hit states include Benue, Bayelsa, Nassarawa, Kogi, Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti, while others, including Osun state workers have been on half-salaries since July 2015.

According to Kaigama, what the erring states have done has inflicted terrorism against Nigerian workers.

He called on the relevant authorities to force the culprits to face the wrath of the law with an immediate probe of the affected states that are have diverted the funds. He canvassedgood governance models that could stand the test of time.

Represented by the National Vice President, Bola-Audu Innocent, Kaigama urged the Federal Government to enact rigorous clauses for benefitting states before releasing the next set of bailout funds.

He described every bailout handed to states without rigorous conditions as money flushed down into some corrupt pockets.

He said stringent conditions such as the settlement of all owed salary arrears and pensions should be attached to future bailout funds.

The Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Commissioner forLabour and Productivity, EmekaOkeke, said that the welfare of workers is of primary concerns to his administration.

He added that government would do all it could to ensure that it fulfill its responsibility to the workers, despite the present economic problems facing the nation.

He disclosed that the state was the first to disburse the N4.2billion allocated for the bailout funds, adding that after the disbursement to offset all outstanding salaries of workers and pensioners, the state still had a balance of N800million, including the Paris Club refund.

He said that committee set up to exercise oversight function commended the state on the high level of compliance it shown during the exercise.

He said: “You cannot say you are operating democracy, if workers are not been catered for because democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“If the people are not being paid, that is not democracy and it is cruel if you don’t pay workers. That is why we made it a priority in the state to ensure that workers are paid.”

In addition to other national and labour related issues affecting members of the union, the ASCSN national president urged government to take urgent steps to ameliorate the sufferings experienced by the masses.

He expressed concern anything to the contrary will continue to push the precipice with very dire consequences.

Highlighting some of the issues, Kaigama said: “We appeal to the federal government to as a matter of urgency inaugurate the panel to do the negotiation so that a new national minimum wage for the country can be arrived at in the next few months.

“On some of the agitations in some quarters in the country which is impacting negatively on national unity, the federal government should take the lead to douse the mounting tension in the country through the tackling of our fault lines, internal contradictions and differences with a view to having a workable mechanism that will be beneficial to every part of the country.”



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