Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has revealed that the workers in the state civil service are being owed the sum of N57 billion, which he said was caused by irregular payment of salary and pension by the immediate-past government.
Fayemi said the arrears covered outstanding salary, pension, promotion, leave bonus and other emoluments from 2014 till October 2018 when he assumed office.
The governor also said he was not part of the people who were opposed to local government autonomy, saying the local governments in the state are given unfettered access to administer their own funds without inference since he assumed office.
Fayemi stated these yesterday during an interaction with the members of the civil service across the ministries, parastatals and agencies at the state secretariat in Ado Ekiti.
He said he would honour his pledge to pay all outstanding workers’ benefits, but clarified that some would be given immediate attention while some would be defrayed at installment.
According to him, “It is sad to reel out such a huge figure because it can create panic for us. But let me say that we can’t pay in once, but promotion for 2019 will be given immediate attention while others will be defrayed at installment.
“It becomes difficult to pay once because Ekiti State gets a little above N5 billion monthly-the state getting like N3 billion while the local government areas receive little above N2 billion monthly.”
On the issue of autonomy, Fayemi said he was never opposed to the idea of giving financial independence to the third tier of government, being the closest to the grassroots.
“I am not opposed to it. Since I came back, not even one naira of the local government money has been administered by me. Though we did some partnerships in 2014 through five kilometre road projects across our councils, since I came back, I have allowed the councils to manage whatever comes to them,” he said.
Fayemi said the state is considering alternative power supply option to shore up the one being supplied to the state from the national grid, which he described as inadequate, and crippling the economic activities in the state.
He said he had also earmarked some funds for the Ministry of Environment to undertake erosion and flood control projects in some towns in view of the recent flood that ravaged Ado Ekiti and other towns, of which civil servants were the major victims.
Going by the concerns raised by the labour leaders about acute shortage of manpower in the health sector, Fayemi said he would liaise with the Health Management Board (HMB) to ascertain the actual statistics and how to fill the missing gaps.
Raising the issue, the Chairman of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Kayode Fatomiluyi, called the attention of the state government to the chronic shortage of manpower in the health sector.
Fatomiluyi said: “Over 1,000 nurses were at HMB in 2014 during your first term, but today, we have less than 500 to manage 22 facilities across the state. Your Excellency, you must do something about this.”
The labour Unions leaders in the state, Kolapo Olatunde of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Sola Adigun of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and others spoke on behalf of the workers, and pleaded that issues that have to do with the benefits of workers must be given utmost priority.