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100 Days: It’d be politically correct for Gov Abdulrazaq to clear

LG/SUBEB backlogs – Prof Hassan Saliu

 

By Mumini AbdulKareem

As Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq clocked one hundred
days in office on Thursday, he has been advised to clear salary
arrears of Local Government workers and their SUBEB counterparts in
the state.
A Professor of Political Science, University of Ilorin, Hassan Saliu
gave the advice at the weekend while appraising the performance of the
governor in the last three months.
According to him, although it might not be legally right for the
governor to embark on the payment, it will be appropriate political
to do so considering the prevailing situation in the state.
According to him, my view is that the governor in the first 100 days
has done remarkably well judging by what the situation was then and
now and the tension certainly has gone down from what it was before he
came to power.
“There were issues like the arrears of salaries, lack of water supply
and failure to meet counterparts funding with federal and donor
agencies. But in the first one hundred days, the Governor has tried to
look into those issues. He has paid some counterparts funding and part
of the salary arrears and water supply has improved compared to what
it was.
“We can also see efforts and steps to turn around and rebuild the
economy, though the fruits are not yet there for people to see.
“Challenge which we need to look at going forward is the issue of
those who are been owed salary arrears and backlogs who are now
getting a bit agitated.
“There is need to pay more attention to Local Government
administration in the state and restructure it in a manner that would
complement his efforts. Nigeria is a federal system with three tiers
of government. The collapse of local government before now was not a
good development and there is need for them to be empowered to
discharge those roles assigned to them by the constitution.
“Remarkably, going by promise by the new government to allow local
government access to their funds, which has been upheld, there is need
to carefully choose those that would lead the councils to be able to
complement the government efforts. If nothing is happening in the
local government, there will be tremendous pressure on the governor
and it such may be a distraction for him. So, there is the need to
ensure the councils are well positioned in Kwara State and cognizance
of those that will head it.
Regarding statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye that
the state government is not responsible for payment of Local
Government salaries, Prof Saliu noted that the CPS was perhaps
misunderstood.
“I think what he was trying to say was that the arrears was owed by a
previous government and the reasonability to pay their salaries fall
squarely on the local government administrators. That might have been
said within the context of the fact that new government has promised
not to tamper with local government funds.
“I think where Ajakaye probably got it wrong was the politics behind
it. Yes, money is now being given to local government which is a good
thing and should be commended. But the question is what about their
arrears against the backdrop that there is continuity in government?
The new government should find a way of clearing their arrears after
which the CPS statement will now have a good foundation like they
didn’t accumulate the arrears but has found a way to clear it and from
that moment onward, local government administrators should now be
responsible for paying the salaries. But that can’t be said now, when
the arrears are on ground and the issue was a campaign issue where
promises were made that he would assist in clearing the debt. So, the
best thing to do is to clear the arrears and now announce to Kwarans
that they have cleared it and now give money to local government, the
administrators should brace up to be able to pay the salaries of their
workers. That would have been a better approach. That the government
is not responsible is technically correct but politically wrong.
“I would advise the government to find a way of clearing the backlogs
and then announce that the local government would henceforth be
responsible. And for that to happen, the government must be careful in
choosing people that will represent it at the local government. So the
various parties involved need to look at the background of people that
will be contesting for local government positions,  it will be back to
square one if the needful is not done on this regards. “The Governor
should do it differently and look at the background of those that will
fly the flag of APC for the environment to be meaningful. You would
recall that under Bisi Akande in Osun state, a Prof was made a local
government chairman,’’  he added.


 

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