Change Vigilantes Organization Press Release Takes Gov Aregbesola To Task On His Failure To Pay Workers Salaries
We at Change Vigilantes Organization feel compelled to weigh in on the pathetic case of government workers of Osun State, where workers are being owed over 5 months salary.
Frankly, we think Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s explanation of why he owes his workers over 5 months’ salary is not only inadequate, but grossly unacceptable. We at Change Vigilantes Organization never thought we would live to see the day when a progressive governor on who we placed much faith for POSITIVE CHANGE in Nigeria would refuse to pay his salaries for 5 months and then blame the problem on dwindling allocation from the Federal Government.
We do not consider the disregard for the survival of hundreds of thousands of workers in his state a problem of dwindling allocation, but a matter of MISPLACED PRIORITY IN THE MANAGEMENT OF LIMITED RESOURCES by our erstwhile governor. Failing to pay people who work for the state for 5 months from the little allocation received only confirms that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola does NOT consider his civil servants a priority in the scheme of things.
Afterall SOME PEOPLE OR SOME BILLS ARE BEING PAID EVERYMONTH by this Governor from that same small allocation. Workers just do not factor in his thinking as he divides that small cake every month and that’s a big shame from a so-called champion of the Workers.
Now, if allocations had dwindled by 40% as the governor claimed in his explanations, it simply means that payments were prioritized by the governor and by neglecting the salaries of all workers in the state for 5 FIVE WHOLE MONTHS, Aregbesola is basically saying that the salary of his state workers is NOT a priority item him at all. They were not priority not just for one month, but for 5 months running.
We are seriously disappointed with this attitude to workers from a man who came to power as a champion of the workers, and who has built his brand as a ‘Worker’ by insisting on being called ‘Ogbeni’ or ‘Comrade’.
Here are some very relevant questions for Ogbeni:
1. Can the governor please PUBLISH the Schedule of payments he has made in the last 5 MONTHS from allocations received and let us see why salaries of those making the state work were not relevant in 5 CONSECUTIVE allocations.
2. Did Ogbeni Rauf not collect the legendary SECURITY VOTE money that a governor never accounts for? If salaries of workers are not priority, then how can the governor collect hundreds of millions for his own personal disbursement in form of security votes without considering the suffering millions of people in his state. Afterall the truth is that the FEDERAL GOVT actually pays most of those security expenses for police, military etc.
3. Why should the governor think that even in the face of 40% income reduction, it should be WORKERS that should be starved for 5 months when he should clearly have understood that the trickle-down effect of this nonpayment of salary will eventually paralyze economic activities in the state?
We at CHANGE VIGILTANTS organization believe that the excuses given by Gov Aregbesola are untenable in the season of change in our country. He promised us he would be different. After all, one his of his biggest campaign promises was that HE WOULD PRIORITIZE THE SALARIES OF WORKERS. He was able to win the elections against all odds because these same civil servants trooped out enmasse to support him. Now, he has chosen to betray them by making them an after-thought when finances got tight for the state.
Our position is that regardless of how tight the allocation of funds has become, the payment of workers salary should remain a priority if indeed we are to believe that Ogbeni indeed cared about the masses.
Furthermore we believe that for Ogbeni Rauf to owe workers’ salaries for 5 over months is unfortunate for a man who has a reputation as a reformer. The reducing allocations did NOT catch him as a surprise. By his own explanation, this has been happening since 2011. So why has he, as the state CEO not adjusted his state expenses to the level of his allocation and IGR? Why has he not been cutting needless expenses, and even if possible reducing the level of employment to what the state can afford (with full discussions with labour) to void the untenable situation of owing labourers who have provided service?
This is not the change we signed up for. Every economic student understands that if you have a reducing income, the only way you are going to balance is to reduce your expenses. Gov Rauf should have been reducing expenses in many areas to avoid owing workers’ salaries. A WORKER DESERVES HIS WAGES and as long as you are keeping the workforce, then you have to pay them. It is one thing to owe one month salary. That can be attributed to temporary cash flow and most workers would understand and absorb the inconvenience. However, when you owe 5 months, then nonpayment of workers has become an irresponsible state policy.
In conclusion, we think that any promises of change by a government that does not think its work force needs to be paid in a civil servant state is hollow. Ogbeni promised the workers they will ALWAYS be priority to him and so far he has proved that is not true anymore now that he has received his second term mandate. that is most unfortunate.
We call on the erstwhile governor to take some drastic steps to address this injustice by taking some immediate positive steps:
1. Re-Prioritize the bills of the state in the face of dwindling allocations and put the bills of workers on a higher priority level. If you are using the services of people, then they need to be paid. Period.
2. If indeed the income cannot accommodate the level of workers in the state, then he should be bold enough to cut the workforce by having a frank and open meeting with the labour leaders to justify why he has to retrench. Of course we expect him to be able to justify the necessity in very clear ways that all of us can understand. For instance, he would not convince us he has to reduce workers’ salaries when he is maintaining high ‘security votes’ for himself and keeping the levels of expenses for his office or other arms of government. If anything is getting cut for workers, then it must be cut even more for their representatives or it won’t be acceptable.
3. As a matter of urgency, the arears of 5 months should be paid and cleared. This is not a favour to the workers. THE MONEY IS OWED TO THEM. THEY HAVE ALREADY PROVIDED THE SERVICES.
4. The governor should use the same public engagement system he was known for to engage his people on how to resolve the state financial crisis. People won’t agitate too much if they are carried along every step of the way and they understand why things are how they are.