Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Borno State chapter, Comrade Bulama Abiso, thursday called on the state government to pay compensation to the families of workers killed in the decade-old Boko Haram crisis.
He also asked the outgoing governor of the state, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, to ensure that he did not hand over the burden of the payment of the over N20 billion gratuities owed retired workers to his successor, Prof. Babagana Umara.
Speaking during the May Day rally in Maiduguri, the state capital, Abiso lamented that over 800 workers were killed during the crisis, insisting that their families were made to live in penury as no compensation was paid to them.
He disclosed that out of the 800 workers killed, 500 were primary school teachers, 200 worked as local government staff and the 100 others were health workers.
He also called on the state government to hasten the implementation of N30,000 minimum wage to local government staff, while urging for more employment opportunities.
Abiso said creation of more job opportunities for the youths remains the panacea for many of the societal ills, including arresting the Boko Haram crisis.
On the need for the present administration to pay the over N20 billion owed in gratuities before exiting office, Abiso said: “We are asking the outgoing government of Borno State to pay up all the outstanding arrears of allowances, pensions, and gratuity before May 29.
“If that is not done, we demand a commitment from the incoming government in that regard.
“Our demands from government consist of payment of leave grants, and promotional benefit for state civil servants, which have been stopped in the past three years.
“The non-payment of retired workers’ pensions, which are up to N20 billion must be addressed at once.
Governor Shettima, represented by his Head of Civil Service, Muhammed Hassan, said it has become too late for his government to make up for the pains caused but assured that his successor would correct his wrongs.
“Let me, therefore, apologise to the Borno State workers over the shortcomings of this administration, which shall be corrected by the incoming administration of Professor Babagana Umara Zulum.
Shettima explained why the government could not pay the workers.
“We are all aware that about 20 local government areas of the state have been affected by the insurgency; schools were destroyed; teachers and students were killed all because of the inhuman activities of the Boko Haram.
“With these challenges on the ground, it was difficult for the state government to take and implement fully the wellbeing of workers.”
Hassan said despite all the circumstantial changes, the state government has not failed in the payment of workers’ salaries.
He said the government has acknowledged these demands, adding that, “efforts are being made to address and ensure that the entitlement of workers is fully paid within available resources.”