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Osun Wage Crisis: Bruce, Kashamu To The Rescue; Aregbesola Kicks

This certainly is not the best of time for civil servants in Osun State as the Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has failed in his obligation to pay their salaries in the last seven months, reports Peterclaver Egbochue

Perhaps, the hope of Osun civil servants for respite following the offer made by Senator Ben Murray Bruce, to donate his wardrobe allowance when paid, may have been dashed by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

The governor, who is believed to have impoverished the state through frivolous spending of the state’s resources, has since fired back at the senator representing Bayelsa East, describing his offer as a way of ridiculing Osun workers who are being owed seven months salaries by his administration.

Aregbesola, responding through Semiu Okanlawon, the Director Bureau of Communication and Strategy, office of the governor, questioned the choice of the All Progressives Congress, (APC0-ruled state by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senator. In a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday, Okanlawon said, “My attention has been drawn to a tweet by a member of Upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Ben Murray Bruce of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from Bayelsa saying he will not reject the alleged hefty pay for members of the National Assembly but collect it and donate to Osun workers.

“It is saddening and tragic that Mr. Murray Bruce whom many had accorded a lot of respect is too early in the day joining the fray of politicisation and trivialising the salary issue affecting more than half of the states of the federation in this ridiculous manner.

While Nigerians are in hot debate over the alleged jumbo pay and the mood of the country Murray Bruce seems to have turned the plight of Nigerian workers to a thing of an entertainment. Of all the states in the federation who are battling to pay salaries as a result of the precarious economic situation his party the PDP threw Nigeria into why is it that it is Osun he wants to take his pay to? “This is certainly playing to the gallery and nothing but a mockery in the faces of Nigerian workers and not only of Osun extraction. It is not only wicked but also ungodly to play politics with the suffering of the people.

If the Senator’s conscience tells him his pay is too high especially in the face of the prevailing economic predicament of Nigeria the most honourable thing to do is to lead a protest for reduction and not a self-serving philanthropy only in the direction of Osun workers.” Senator Murray-Bruce had pledged to donate his wardrobe allowance to the unpaid workers in Osun state and widows in his community at Akasa, Bayelsa state. The media mogul said the suffering of the workers and their dependents necessitated his action over the inability of the state government to pay public service workers. “I, Ben Murray Bruce, will not sit down idly, while my fellow citizens die because salaries have not been paid. As a first step, I am immediately donating my wardrobe allowance to unpaid workers in Osun state and widows in my Constituency,” he said He added that he would publicly handover his allowance to the chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Osun state and the head of widows association in Akasa.

“We are starting in Osun, but we will not end there. I will do as much to help workers who’ve not been paid in other states. As soon as my wardrobe allowance is paid, I will divide it into two. Half will be publicly given to the NLC Chairman Osun. The other half will be publicly given to the head of widows association in my community of Akasa,” he added while enjoining other Nigerians to donate to the workers in Osun and other states of the country, facing similar crisis. Each senator is entitled to a wardrobe allowance of N506, 600 per annum according to the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engr. Elias Mbam. Earlier, it was reported that Senator Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, had concluded arrangement to donate 30 trailer loads of rice to the people of Osun State to save them from abject hunger they are being subjected to by the Governor Aregbesola.

A source, close to Kashamu revealed that the Senator is pained by the turn out of events in the state as he has been having sleepless nights ever since because he feels the pain of the hungry people of Osun state which is as a result of the non-payment of their salaries, and for the retired civil servants, their pension. Osun state has 30 local governments – hence, each local government will get one trailer of rice each. The trailers are currently en-route Osun state. At the last count, about18 states of the federation cannot pay workers salaries, with more others on the verge of defaulting in the nearest future if nothing is done urgently. In a bid to probably stem the tide, the 36 state governors on Thursday met with President Muhammadu Buhari, for an urgent review of the revenue formula and address the problems precipitated by the economic problems.

The governors noted that it became imperative to work with the President because the issue of dwindling resources was not a state government problem alone, but an issue that has serious national impact. The governors agreed that the Federal Government should have 52 percent allocation of the national resources while states should have 36 percent to enable them concentrate on the development of their various states. Currently, the revenue sharing formula favours the Federal Government that receives 52.68 per cent, the State receive 26.72 per cent leaving the Local Government with 20.60 per cent.

In a communiqué read at the end of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), chairman of the body and governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdullazeez Yari, who disclosed that they would meet with the president to hand over to him, their template towards resolving the problem, warned that if nothing urgent was done to block the loopholes, the country would be further plunged into greater crises. On the issue of non-payment of outstanding salaries by some governors, the governor said, “Well, we discussed that extensively, and we are trying to see that we find a lasting solution to it. The Federal Government is also affected, so it is a problem of the entire nation. Therefore, we are going to send the communiqué to the president so that we can get a lasting solution to it.” “There will be enough even at $60 to keep Nigeria going.

Government’s primary purpose is not just to pay salaries. Salaries are as a result of work and that work is people delivering services, which is what the civil service is meant to do. We have to talk about government meeting its obligation to the people, which of course include the payment of salaries. Unfortunately, the states mostly affected are All Progressives Congress (APC), which are leading the campaign for a bailout to be able to pay workers’ salaries. Whether President Buhari would be favourably disposed to the governor’s request will be seen in the days to come.

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