By Vic Nnakaike, Lokoja
Groups in Kogi State are calling for inclusion of lawmakers and political appointees to be included in the plans to cut salaries in the state.
Following the speech delivered by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Kogi State chairman , Onuh Edoka, during May1 2020 Worker’s Day that the state workers are not ready to accept their salaries paid in percentage , an activist has stated that the state government should as a matter of fact include legislators and political appointees.
Idris Miliki Abdul, the Executive Director of Conscience for Human Right and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), equally emphasised that 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.
He said partly as a result of this, the state government has proposed salary cuts for workers. “This unfortunate development would not augur well if in paying salary in percentage legislators and political appointees will be excluded.
“In the last four years of Governor Yahaya Bello administration, public sector workers in the State have been at the receiving end, including from non-payment of some workers’ salary. The worst hit are local council staff and teachers who suffered severe salary cuts and they are yet to be paid the difference as promised by the state Government”.
He went on: “It remains worrisome and unbelievable, that less than three months into the second tenure, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello is undertaking another salary cut, which now includes all categories of workers, such as Medical and Health Workers, who are currently at the front line in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“Yet, this is happening at a time both the federal and some state governments 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 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 cut 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”.
The activist added: “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 were 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 allegation 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.
“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 an ex- 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 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?