By Mumini AbdulKareem
Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed has said that the state government is determined to put an end to the protracted salary crisis in the local government.
The governor who dropped the cheering news while fielding questions during an interactive radio programme, “The Governor Explains” on Tuesday, said the state government will discuss with commercial banks in the state to guarantee loans for the troubled council with a view to clearing their backlog.
According to him, the executive has concluded decision to deal with the councils individually based on their different backlog.
To this end, he said his administration will commence the discussion with the affected council chairmen with Ilorin West as the first point being one of the councils with the highest number of employees, before moving to Ilorin South, Ilorin East and Offa among others.
Ahmed said councils like Kaiama and Baruten are some of the least indebted local councils with between half and one month salary arrears.
He also said that the state government will take over Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) by placing its management and funding under the State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) stressing that this will lessen the burden on the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) which is funded through federal allocation.
The governor who said he shares in the plight of the affected workers explained that the state government is working with the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) with a view to improve the revenue of the 16 local governments to enable them meet their financial obligations.
“We are ready to stop the bleeding and heal the wounds of local government workers. The situation there is very unfortunate but we must find immediate solution to their problem and we are ready to sit with them beginning with Ilorin West before we move to other local governments.
“So we are determined to stop bleeding and heal their wounds. Stopping the bleeding is clearing the backlogs and healing wound is regularising their salaries instead of being paid in percentages.
“The backlogs differ across boards and some are owing as much as six to nine months while others like Kaiama is about half month salary and we cannot treat all of them with the same brush,” he added.
He said funds to fix Kwara hotels will come from the public called crowd funding, where investors will get their returns within seven years adding that the N5.2 billion the state got from the last tranche of the 50 per cent Paris Club Refund was not part of the local government money.
“Under the crowd funding (private Equity funding model), citizens can also invest their funds in Kwara Hotel, and get interest over 7years. Kwara Hotel will now become a 3-star and 4-Star hotel in one. There is no secrecy to funding the state. It’s either IGR or FAAC. The only new source of funds is the Paris Club refund.
“The issue of the LG councils is very saddening because nobody saw that we were going to come to this point. Unfortunately too, most of them could not generate revenue on their own.
“SUBEB is not a revenue generating body; it is important to provide support for the agency. Hence, we will remove the Junior School teachers and put them under the Teaching Service Commission. This will lessen the burden on SUBEB.”
Ahmed promised that through the IF-K, all ongoing projects will be completed before the end of his administration.
On fear being expressed by residence on the school fees of the International Vocational Training and Entrepreneurship Centre, the governor said “People should not be worried about IVTEC’s tuition fee because those that are to study there are expected to be sponsored.
“On our own part, Kwara State Government will sponsor 85 students, that is, 5 students from each LG annually. Students from IVTEC have direct access to foreign trips on excursion purposes. Many corporate organisations like Julius Berger, major oil companies in Nigeria etc have already shown interest in sponsoring students to IVTEC.
“The centre will issue a certificate called C and G which is what most white men we refer to as Engineers/Expatriates in Nigeria have. With the level of interest shown by multinational companies in IVTEC, it’s safe to say that most foreigners in Nigeria engaged in engineering and technical services will be trained and retrained in the institution and the World Bank has agreed to sponsor 177 students to the school.”