By James Sowole in Akure
Ondo State Governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has dared workers in the state to continue with their protest over the non-payment of leave allowance, declaring that he cannot change his position on the matter.
Akeredolu made the declaration at Owode Obaile in Akure North Local Government area of the state during the inauguration of an ultra-modern resort built by the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ondo State under the leadership of Mr. Olubunmi Eniayewu.
A shouting match had a few hours before the inauguration of the NULGE project ensued between the workers and the governor when he (Akeredolu) said government would pay leave allowance only when there is money.
Akeredolu, who commended the NULGE president and his team for the project, lamented that about 90 per cent of the state earnings goes for payment of salaries and allowances.
“We earn about N5 billion every month. N4 billion goes for salaries, allowances, how do we address the problems of shortage of teachers in primary schools? How do we build classrooms? How do we provide transformers for communities without light? Majority want their roads constructed. The current state of affairs is depressing.
â€œIt is a tragic irony that some people now refer to our state as a civil service enclave where governance has been reduced, virtually, to payment of salaries, allowances, grants and subventions.
“So, you can shout, you can protest, it is your fundamental human right, you can remain in sun for days but I will not change my style in the interest of the majority. We are paying salaries regularly, workers must not be selfish, allow us to take care of other people in the state,” Akeredolu stated.
He therefore said it was not a big deal because it was a fundamental human right of every Nigerian to protest or disagree with government’s decision but he would continue to act in the overall best interest of the state.
He noted that the present administration had been regularly releasing N200 million to offset the backlog of gratuities of retired public servants and payment of car loan for workers at both state and local government levels.
Earlier, the Ondo State President of NULGE, Eniayewu, said the construction of the union’s recreational facilities started in 2015.
He added that the project would facilitate easy training and retraining of more local government workers through seminars and entrepreneurial skills acquisition.
Eniayewu, who commended Akeredolu for prompt promotion of his members, however urged the state government to urgently approve the promotion of local government workers who were due in January 2018.