Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

OYO STATE: The Claim that the “Bailout is not enough to clear debts” cannot be true!

OYO STATE: The Claim that the “Bailout is not enough to clear debts” cannot be true!

Oyo state leadership of the NLC and TUC must pull out of any discussion with state government to cut salaries of civil servants

The state monthly resources can pay salary of public workers and implement tangible project for the populace if political office holders collect salaries and allowances equivalent to that of civil servants

The Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, disagrees with the Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Oyo State Governor, over the statement credited to him in various print and electronic media that the bailout fund recently made available to his government is not enough to offset the salaries and pensions arrears of public workers and retirees in the state respectively. This is at variance with the statement credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, while directing all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) involved in negotiations with state governments to pay the money into the salary accounts of the workers.

According to ThisDay newspaper, published on the 6th September, 2015, the CBN explained that “a specific figure was attached to the facilities to be disbursed to the state because every state is expected to come with its specific needs to settle the backlog of salary arrears to access the facility from the commercial banks”.

Going by this background, it is obvious that all the states which requested the bailout fund (Oyo state inclusive) were expected to submit the exact figure that will be needed to offset the backlog of salary and pension arrears in their respective state.

That Senator Ajimobi is now claiming that the N26bn bailout fund is not enough cannot only be untrue but also suspected as another technical trick by the APC-led government in the state to divert the bailout fund for another purpose different from the one the fund is meant for. It must be noted that the state was plunged into this embarrassing situation where is owing its workforce and retirees many months of salaries and pensions respectively not only because of the decline in the monthly allocation but largely as a result of prolificacy and financial recklessness of APC-led government like other pro- capitalist governments across the country.

The argument that the entire N3.2 billion monthly allocations the state receives from the Federal Government (FG) and N1.2billion internally generated revenue (IGR) is almost being spent only on the N5.2 billion wage bill of state workers put at 100,000 in number is divisive. It is a way to incite the rest of the oppressed strata of the society, who have also benefited little or nothing over the years owing to the self-serving agenda of successive governments in the state regardless of political parties, against the public workers in the state.

It could be true that wage bill for 100,000 public workers as claimed by the governor in his media chat is N5.2billion. But it cannot be true that the entire 100,000 workforce are strictly state workers whose salaries are paid only from the allocation to the state government. The last biometric verification conducted by the same Ajimobi-led government in 2011 showed that only 28,000 workers received their salaries from the allocation meant for the state government. Going by this background, one is left with no option than to suspect that the remaining 72,000 out of the 100,000 workers declared by the APC-led government are workers in primary schools and local government whose salaries and allowance are paid through Federal government and allocation meant for the local government respectively.

Since the APC-led government in addition to its own statutory monthly allocation has been receiving the local government monthly allocation from the FG partly due to its conscious refusal to allow election at the 33 local government areas in the state, the SPN holds that the claim that the entire 100,000 workers is paid solely from the N3.2billion received by the state government is untrue and deceptive.

The SPN therefore challenges the APC-led government to publicly declare how much it has received from the federal government on behalf of the local governments in the state.

We also frown at any consideration, as declared by the governor, for cutting the salary and allowance of civil servants in the state.

We hold that any attempt to cut the salary of workers who were denied any significant economic gain in the period of boom will amount to a serious economic injustices and jeopardy. It must be resisted by workers and labour leaders.

Despite the decline in the oil revenue, the SPN believes that Oyo state government has the capacity to pay workers in the state and still implement tangible projects capable of bringing meaning improvement in the condition of living of the people of the state.

This is however possible only if the political office holders are ready to cut down their outrageously high salaries and allowances as well as opulent life style with a view to adopt a lifestyle that will be equivalent to that of the working people. The state must also stop corrupt practices, wastages and inflation of contracts, high cost of governance in order to free up resources for developmental projects and wellbeing of the citizenry.

It is in the light of this that the SPN calls on the state leadership NLC and TUC to pull out of any discussion Senator Ajimobi claimed he is having with them over the possibility of cutting the salary and allowance of workers in the state. Rather, the state labour leadership should be prepared to fight for a new minimum wage in the face of high inflation and increasing cost of living once the national leadership tables a specific demand before the federal government. However, they should immediately kick start the process of mobilising workers and the entire poor strata in the state in a preparation to resist all forms of attacks on the living condition and democratic right which the Senator Ajimobi had promised to launch on the 1st of October 2015 under the pretence of improving IGR from N1.2billion to N2.6billion by 2016 and abolishing of street trading.

It is not true that street trading is the cause of heaps of dirty that are now the major feature of many towns and cities in the state. It is the manifestation of poor funding and corruption in the ministry of environment! To curb this will mean that the state government should start the adequate and proper funding of ministry of environment and which must be under a democratic control of the elected representatives of the workers, community and the government functionaries. Awarding public resources to contractor friends under the pretence of waste management or disposal breeds corruption, and it has to be stopped!

Abiodun Bamgboye
Secretary, SPN Oyo State