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Issues In Ekiti Wage Debate

April 13, 2011

An opinion article entitled “Ekiti State Rotten Wage Deal: A wrong Precedence” by one Kola Ibrahim published on Sahara Reporters’ website was rather off the mark as the negotiation with the workers in Ekiti was not about minimum wage but rather on relativity payment.

An opinion article entitled “Ekiti State Rotten Wage Deal: A wrong Precedence” by one Kola Ibrahim published on Sahara Reporters’ website was rather off the mark as the negotiation with the workers in Ekiti was not about minimum wage but rather on relativity payment.

The position of the Ekiti State Government on minimum wage is very clear. If it is the law of the land, we shall respect it. Our position however remains that it out not to be the place of the Federal Government to determine wage in a Federal entity such as ours.

The writer regretted the way the labour movement sat on a negotiation table with the government to resolve all issues arising from the current ‘minimum’ wage. According to him, the labour movement, instead of making sense of labour unionism, ended up betraying their members with ‘rotten agreement to pay a paltry N13,000 minimum’ wage.

For effect, what the government and the labour leaders agreed on was a relativity payment and not even minimum wage as reported by Ibrahim. For him, it is preferable for the labour leaders to lead the about 40,000 workers, from house to house, mobilizing the entire citizenry against the government that has responsibility to cater for the entire people of the state in all spheres of life.

Like Mark Anthony, Ibrahim went deep into his repertoire of oratory, seeking to draw Ekiti workers into an act of rage against the government by listing all the good things of life that they will miss if they take “a paltry N13,000” as minimum wage. The problems the workers will face if they take N13,000, according to him, include inflation rate, basic consumables and clothing materials, among others.

As if writing in trance, Ibrahim mischievously reeled out inaccurate number of workers on the wage bill of Ekiti State Government. According to him, there are only 20,000 workers in Ekiti State Civil Service, and so he wondered why government cannot pay N18,000 minimum wage signed by President Goodluck Jonathan. The truth is that there are 40,000 workers in the Ekiti State public service.

He also wrote: “Political office holders cream off at least 30 per cent of the revenue of the state as salaries. 300 political office holders cream off N1 billion per month. Specifically, the state collects N3.8 billion bill as monthly allocation.”

In reality, Ekiti State receives just N1.8 billion and not N3.8 billion from the Federal Allocation every month. Ekiti State gets N480m from VAT while IGR is N160 million out of which salaries and emoluments gulp N2.3 billion. In fact, the salaries of all the 85 and not ‘300’ political office holders total N40 million per month and not N1 billion quoted by Ibrahim. Governor Fayemi is running a very lean government, and one wonders where Ibrahim got his “300 political office holders” figure. Or does N40 million represent 30% of N1.8 billion? As a matter of fact, the government has collapsed the 17 ministries in the state to 13.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Governor of Ekiti state earn N627,000 per month while the Commissioners earn N407,000 and Special advisers, N367,000 per month. These figures are verifiable and are as recommended by the Revenue Mobilisation And Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC). The state’s allocation for security vote, which is N100 million is perhaps the list in the country especially when some governors get as much as N1 billion monthly as security vote.

It is also instructive to note that out of the N100 million security vote, the state government buys vehicles and other security equipment on a regular basis for all the security arms including the police, SSS, NDLEA, immigrations, civil defence and SARS among others.

 Pray, what is the worth of a self-acclaimed informed writer who chooses a platform such as a world-wide portal to dish out falsehood to his readers? In Ekiti State, no such statistics exists and one wonders where Ibrahim got his figures.

Before Governor Fayemi assumed office, he made it plain in his campaign that the welfare of the people was uppermost in his mind. He also stressed that his constituency would be entire Ekiti people without any political consideration in his welfare service to the people. He demonstrated this shortly after assumption of office when he paid off severance allowances to all former political office holders who are of course not members of his political party, the Action Congress of Nigeria. Most of the beneficiaries were from the ousted Peoples Democratic Party controlled government of Mr.  Segun Oni.

If Ibrahim were to serve the larger interest of the society, he would have pointed the attention of the workers to several challenges the government of Ekiti State is facing in its development strategies. He would have pointed out that Governor Fayemi’s singular gesture in reducing the tuition fees paid in the higher institutions of the state, from more than N200,000 to a maximum of N50,000 is enough to remove all the burdens of the workers in the civil service who are the parents hitherto under the yoke of paying outrageous school fees of their children. This is apart from the N700 million paid the retired workers by the governor few weeks after assumption of office. Ibrahim never reminded the workers that the free education programme run by the governor that frees parents from the pains of financial squeeze is enough to make the workers grateful to the government.

One would have expected Ibrahim to include in his article that the Fayemi  administration has restored car and housing loan schemes frozen by the last administration. Just last week, some teachers were presented with cheques for their car loans. The governor also reviewed upward the salaries and emoluments of health workers, the first in the entire South West, while Judiciary workers also have their salaries reviewed upwards. Just few days ago, the promotions of the workers that were frozen by the last administration were lifted with many workers today savouring the benefit of that gesture. A total of 2, 200 school teachers benefitted under this new dispensation.

The current wage regime in Ekiti State is salary relativity adjustment, which the workers themselves sought in the first instance because of the reality on the ground, but which, unfortunately, Ibrahim is blind to.

Ibrahim also frowned at the private/public initiatives by the government to drive Ekiti development process. For him, it is a way of cornering the resources of the people and put them in the hands of a few. That anachronistic thinking is long dead with the bones of the deadwoods that ran Nigeria aground over the years. Ibrahim should go to Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Niger and Kano states and see how public/private initiatives are driving these societies on the path of growth.

In every society, there is always one Iscariot dragging down the wheel of progress. That is why in spite of Governor Fayemi’s bold initiatives to step up Ekiti development process, Ibrahim is canvassing that labour leaders should take up arms, lay siege to every home and plan to run all politicians to the ditch because they are enemies of the people.

But discerning minds in Ekiti and others interested parties in the Ekiti project are appreciative of the good tidings, which the good people of the state are enjoying under the administration of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

·  Olujobi is Senior Special Assistant (Speech and Public Communications) to Governor Fayemi

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