From Yahaya Wakili, Damaturu
The Yobe state government said the global economic downturn or economic recession in the wake of the corona virus pandemic has been the reason for shortfalls in the payment of the state workers salaries in recent time.
It urged workers to bare with government as this is a passing situation which all had to bare in the time.
Malam Abdullahi Bego, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture stated this during a press briefing at the NUJ centre in Damaturu, recently.
“These revenue shortfalls, as you all know, have begun to effect everything – from the capacity of the government to provide key social services to the people to the fare you pay at the motor park. But it is – and has always been – the basic responsibility of government to provide basic social services to the people, including water supply, medicines and drugs in hospitals, clinics, and health centres, feeding for students in schools and general support for educational development, agric input to farmers, and the roads that make commerce and commuting easier. These are facts about which we all agree.
“When the economic and fiscal situation makes the delivery of these basic services difficult or hard to achieve, the government has to take every measure necessary to continue to perform its basic functions.
“One of the immediate measures the government took was to cut in half the amount of money it pays to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies ( MDAs) to cover their running costs. The government took other measures as well to cut unnecessary spending and channel resources to where they are most needed and where they would be most effective,” Bego said.
According to him, this is the background that also informed the decision of the state government to review the salaries of workers at the local government level.
“Given the nature and scal of the situation at hand, the first and natural impulse would be to say’let’s retrench some of the workers or downsize the workforce to be able to handle the fat salary bill. But the administration of His Excellency Governor Mai Mala Buni has refused to contemplate that idea. The governor does not want that workers lose their jobs because of the prevailing economic hardship.
“As a consequence, the state government set up a committee that met at different levels to deliberate on the issue and find better alternatives. The Committee travelled to places far and wide to understudy how they conduct their salary administrations. Critical stakeholders also met both in Damaturu and accross the 17 local government areas to discuss and find a way out. The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs produced and circulated a multi – point discursive material that guided the discussion at all the concerned fora.
“These committee have members drawn from the labour unions, including the state chapters of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), and the Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN).
“Following the meeting of stakeholders at the local government level, each local government council wrote back to the state government to relate its thoughts and opinions about the issue. One local government wrote to say “the new reforms as articulated in the taking points circulated by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs were fully endorsed and the resolution of the state government not to embark on staff retrenchment or downsizing in spite of the (current) financial downturn was particularly applauded.” All the 17 local government area stakeholders have endorsed the decision.” The Commissioner added.
Speaking on the recommendation of the committee, Mr Abdullahi Bego said “during their study visit to neighbouring and other states across the country, the committee found that in some states, local government salaries are paid according to the percentage of funds received from federation account allocations. So, there is no fixed amount that a worker in a local government receives. What he or she receive was totally dependent on the specific amount of money that accrued to the state each month. So, a worker sees their salaries up a bit one month or go down a notch the next month,’ Bego said.