By Bimbo Ogunnaike
Ekiti State Governor ,Kayode Fayemi, has revealed that civil service workers in the state are being owed sum of N57 billion from 2014 till date.
Fayemi said the debt was caused by irregular payment of salary and pension by immediate past government, adding that the arrears covered outstanding salary, pension, promotion, leave bonus and other emoluments from 2014 till October 2018 when he assumed office.
The governor also said he was not part of the people that were opposed to local government autonomy, saying the local governments in the state are given unfettered access to administer their own funds without inference since he assumed office.
Governor Fayemi disclosed the development on Tuesday during an interaction with the members of the civil servants across Ministries, parastatals and agencies held at the State Secretariat in Ado Ekiti , the state capital.
He said he would honour his pledge to pay all outstanding workers’ benefits, but clarified that some will be given immediate attention while some will be defrayed instalmentally.
“It is sad to reel out such a humongous figure because it can create panic for you and I. But let me say that we can’t pay in one swell swoop, but promotion for 2019 will be given immediate attention while others will be defrayed installmentally.
“It becomes difficult to pay once, because Ekiti gets a little above N5 billion monthly with the state getting like N3 billion while the local governments receive little above N2 billion monthly, ” he said.
On the issue of autonomy, Fayemi said he was never opposed to the idea of giving financial independence to the third tier of government, being the closest to the grassroots.
“I am not opposed to it. Since I came back, Not even one Naira of the Local Government money was being administered by me. Though we did some partnerships in 2014 through 5-kilometer road projects across our councils, since I came back, I have allowed councils to manage whatever comes to them”.
Fayemi said the state is considering alternative power supply options to shore up the one being supplied to the state from the national grid, which he described as inadequate and crippling economic activities.
He said he had earmarked some funds for the Ministry of Environment to undertake erosion and flood control projects in some towns, in view of the recent flooding that ravaged Ado Ekiti and other towns, of which civil servants were major victims.
Going by the concerns raised by the labour leaders about the acute shortage of manpower in the health sector, Fayemi said he would liaise with the Health Management Board(HMB) to ascertain the actual statistics and how to fill the missing gaps.
Raising the issue, the Chairman of the Public service Joint Negotiating Council, Kayode Fatomiluyi, called the attention of the government to a chronic shortage of manpower in the health sector.
“Over 1,000 nurses were at HMB in 2014 during your first term, your Excellency, but today we have less than 500 to manage 22 facilities across the state. Mr. Governor must do something about this,” Fatomiluyi said
The labour Unions in the state; Coms Kolapo Olatunde of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Sola Adigun of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and others spoke on behalf of the workers and pleaded that issues that have to do with the benefits of workers must be given utmost priority.
They urged the governor to use his connections as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to fast track the passage of the New Minimum Wage for workers into law.