Despite Paris Club refunds, over 10 states owe salaries, pensions

Bothered by the huge debt owed workers across Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, on separate occasions, made available funds for state governments to settle backlog of salaries.

However, feelers from some of the states point to mismanagement of these funds.

A survey across some states indicates that majority of state and local government civil servants across the country are yet to have their backlog of salaries cleared.

Bauchi State is one of the beneficiaries of the Paris Club Refund given to state governments for the payment of salaries and pension arrears.

In the first few months of Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar’s administration, he faced the challenge of paying salaries, especially a backlog inherited from the previous administration.

However, after a workers verification exercise which generated a lot of heat, the government paid the backlog.

About N8 billion was later given to the state by the Federal Government as bailout to help in the payment of salaries and retirement benefits which had been accumulating over the years. The government also collected N6.2 billion from the Paris Club Refund.

The first move made by the state was to offset the four months’ salary backlog in order to be able to pay subsequent salaries.

However, the payment of gratuity has not been forthcoming overtime and has accumulated to about N16 billion.

Governor Abubakar has been criticised by many for his alleged misuse of the bailout funds which he has continuously denied, saying that it was used judiciously and in a transparent manner as attested to by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

Bauchi State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Hashimu Gital, “We don’t have the problem of salary arrears or outstanding salary. No arrears of pension, but we are aware there are accumulated outstanding gratuities,” Gital said.

Although he did not disclose the figure of accumulated gratuities he said that they were in consultation with the government to find ways of addressing the issue.

“You have heard recently, the deputy governor made a pronouncement on behalf of the government during Sallah message that the government will soon commence the payment of gratuities, and I want to believe that before they commence, there will be a meeting between the organised labour and the government, so that they will disclosed how much they have already dedicated for the payment,” he said.

Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar had at a recent parley revealed that the state government spent N5.1 billion monthly to pay salaries leaving less to run the day to day government activities. He said what the government received from the federation account and what it generated as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) hardly met its financial needs.

Taraba: In Taraba State government owes N16bn in gratuities, salaries

In Taraba State, the state government owes over N16 billion gratuities of more than 2000 retired civil servants and salaries of local government workers.

Findings reveal that state civil servants and local councils’ workers that retired in the last five years have not been paid gratuity.

On the issue of salaries, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku said he was up to date in the payment of both state civil servants and local government workers. However, checks reveal that some local government workers and some staff of the moribund Taraba Publishing Company Limited (TPLC) are owed some months and three years, respectively. This is despite Governor Darius having accessed received bailout funds and the Paris Club Refund.

The Permanent Secretary, Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Bello Yero, corroborated the governor thus, “I can confidently tell you that the Taraba State Government does not owe any salary of council staff.

However, state Chairman of pensioners, Alhaji Hassan Abubakar, said Taraba State owed pensioner’s over N16 billion gratuities.

Kogi: Labour, govt at daggers drawn over unpaid salaries

In Kogi State, the organised labour has been at loggerheads with the government over issues of unpaid salaries and has already issued an ultimatum to begin a strike action with effect from September 22.

State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ronti Ojo, said workers in the state were being owed backlog of salaries ranging from two to 20 months.

“Our case in Kogi State as regards salary payment is such a complex one. It is so sad because even if you ask the government to bring out the list of the workers they are paying and those they owe, I’m very sure they cannot present those lists.

“What I mean is this; there are various categories in which workers are being owed. As we speak, I can tell you that there are categories of genuine workers that have not taken a single salary from January 2016 to date.

“That implies 12 months for last year and eight months this year making a total of 20 months of indebtedness to some workers. There are genuine pensioners that have not taken a Kobo since the inception of this administration. If you ask me the percentage of those people, they are not less than 25 per cent of the workforce, Ojo said.

Borno: In Borno, pension, gratuity, more problematic than salary

The persistent problem encountered in the payment of salaries in Borno State is due to the screening and bio-data capture of workers.

State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Titus Abana, like many other unpaid civil servants, refused to speak to Daily Trust on the issue.

However, a couple of months ago, the Borno NLC chairman complained to newsmen that almost 500 bona fide workers of the Borno State Government were yet to receive salaries in 10 months, a problem, he said, was caused by the snail-pace workers’ verification.

Comrade Abana lamented thus, “For a worker to stay for as long as 10 months and is not paid is a difficult one. After verification of certificates and last dates of promotional exercises are asked, we expect them to be paid. We understand that BVN numbers have been an issue too. But we have been on top of all the issues pending since 2016.”

Gombe: Gombe still owes gratuities

The Gombe State Government is yet to pay pensioners their gratuities two months after receiving the second tranche of the Paris Club Fund, Daily Trust can report.

The state had received over N4.4 billion from the second tranche in July, but thousands of retirees are yet to be paid gratuities several years on.

Our correspondent reports that the state owes pensioners both at the state and local government levels close to N9 billion.

Gombe State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Haruna Kamara, said the NLC was not consulted about payment of the second tranche of the Paris Club Fund.

“The truth of the matter is that nobody from the government consulted us about the fund and how they were going to use it. The figure available to us was about N4.4 billion which we got from the internet,” he said.

Edo: Workers owed 5 to 10 months

Civil servants in the 18 local government councils in Edo State are still being owed between five and 10 months salaries.

Civil servants in the 18 local government councils in Edo State are still being owed between five and 10 months salaries.

Pension and gratuity are also being owed the state government despite the bail out and the Paris funds.

As a result of the non payment of pension and gratuities, aggrieved pensioners staged a protest demanding the payment of arrears spanning between five and 42 months.

A pensioner, Osemwekhi, said, “The government owes state pensioners between five and 42 months and local government between 13 and 32 months. For the state pensioners, they are owed gratuities from 2012 till date and the local government pensioners from 2008 till date.

He said if the government had utilised the bailout funds as directed by the Federal Government, they would have successfully taken care of outstanding salaries and pensions and gratuities.

The Governor, Godwin Obaseki, had said that the state did not owe 42 months pensions.

However, a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Crusoe Osagie, said Governor Obaseki was committed to paying all outstanding pension arrears and gratuities in phases.

Kwara: Govt, pensioners, labour differ on salary matters

The Kwara State government has insisted that it does not owe any worker and that it is up to date in the payment of salaries and pensions.

A Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Dr. Muideen Akorede, said however, that the state government owed some arrears of gratuity and subvention to some of the state-owned tertiary institutions.

Kwara State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Yekini K. Agunbiade, confirmed that primary school teachers and pensioners of local governments were owed between one to eight months.

Benue: Govt owes salaries, pension, gratuity

In Benue State, workers are being owed salaries between six and 10 months while pensioners have not being paid for over 11 months.

Benue State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Godwin Anya, said workers were being owed six months while local government staff; including teachers, were owed 10 months’ salary.

The NLC chairman added that a one-week warning strike ended on Wednesday and that if nothing was done to offset the salaries, the union would be forced to embark on “the mother of all industrial actions.”

Ebonyi: Govt owed N7bn

Ebonyi State Government owes over N7 billion pensions and gratuities out of which 1.5 billion from 12 billion received from the Paris Club Refund was recently released by the Governor, Engr. David Umahi.

However, civil servants and pensioners have continued to lament that the money released has not reached them.

State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Leonard Nkah, who is also the Chairman, NULGE, Ebonyi State chapter, described the ugly development as a national shame.

Niger: Pension headache lingers in Niger

In recent times within the regimes of the bailout funds and the Paris Club Refund, pensioners have laid siege at the Government House and the House of Assembly and also grounded social, as well as commercial activities in Minna, the state capital, in protest of unpaid pension arrears.

Our correspondent reports that unlike in some states where there are backlog of salary arrears as at the time of transition of power in 2015, Niger was update in its obligation to state civil servants.

However, the same cannot be said of workers of the 25 local government areas across the state. Reports of months unpaid salaries were rife, while some councils allegedly paid salaries based on percentage.

Nasarawa: In Nasarawa it’s one month – NLC

Nasarawa State civil servants are currently owed one month’s salary, the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.

The state Chairman of NLC Comrade Abdullahi Adeka, who disclosed this to Daily Trust in a telephone interview, said that civil servants in the state were owed one month salary.

Ondo:  Ondo workers still owed 5 months

In Ondo State, workers and pensioners are being owed salary arrears of four to five months.

The workers, led by their unions, have said they would not accept one month salary payment from the state government and therefore were ready for a showdown until their demands were met.

Reacting to the workers’ agitation, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Dr. Doyin Odebowale, said contrary to a claim that the administration got N7.03 billion, the state government got N6.38 billion for the payment of September 2016 salary arrears and execution of capital projects.

Osun: We do not owe workers – Osun govt

 …It is not true – NLC

The Osun State Government has said it does not owe workers in the state in accordance with the modulated salary agreement between the government and the labour unions.

Mr. Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to the Governor, said Osun State Government had paid salaries up till August this year and that the September salary would be paid promptly.

He added that the pensioners were also paid up till August this year and that Governor Aregbesola remained committed to the welfare of workers, pensioners and the generality of the people of the state.

But the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, said the state government still owed the outstanding balance of the arrears of salaries of certain categories of workers that were paid modulated salaries of 50 and 75 per cent.

Adamawa: Adamawa yet to fully comply

After receiving a total of N19.2 billion as Paris Club refund, Adamawa State government still owes primary school teachers, local government staff, health workers and pensioners.

The state received N12.8 billion in the first tranche of the refund and N6.4 billion as second tranche.

The Chairman of Pensioners Association in Adamawa State, Samson Almuru, lamented the failure by the state government to utilise the Paris Club Refund for payment of pension and gratuity.

He said more than three thousand civil servants who retired in the last three years had not been enjoying pension and gratuity.

He said government released only N737 million out of about N20 billion owed to pensioners which has not addressed any issue.

Ogun: Govt, workers disagree over figures

In Ogun State, the government explained that the sum of 3.4b and N1.1b totalling N4.5b, which represented about 75 per cent N5.7 billion received as the state’s share of the second tranche of the refund paid by the Paris Club, was expended on both the state and local governments’ cooperative deductions.

The government claims it is not owed any salary and that August 2017 salary has been paid.

But the workers declared that the payment was still far from the 18 months outstanding yet unpaid.

The Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Akeem Ambali, confirmed that six months arrears of cooperative deductions were paid in July out of the 18 months, but that the government is still owed 12 months.

Ambali further said, “Before the Paris Club fund was released, there was a meeting between labour and government where we did all the workings and calculations. Surprisingly, when the fund was released, labour was not called to a round table like what happened in other states.

“As at today Ogun state still owes the workers over 84 months Contributing Pension Deductions that are supposed to have been remitted to various Pension Fund Administrators (PFA). This speaks volumes because the retiring future of Ogun State workers is doomed without appropriate and correct remittance of these funds to PFA,” Ambali concluded. – Daily Trust.

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