By Mumini Abdulkareem
Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq came under heavy attack this month over the non implementation of the new minimum wage in the state.
Labour unions in Kwara and the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration had been at loggerheads over the issue since President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage of N30,000 into law last year.
Several meetings with representatives of the government towards implementation before now had ended in deadlock especially on the table to adopt for consequential adjustment leading to accusation that the Governor is deliberately avoiding the leadership of the labour unions over alleged insincerity.
But the outcome of the parley between the labour unions and the governor which eventually took place last week has been unhelpful.
Attempt by the Governor to justify his position that it can pay the contentious wage but was being reluctant over concerns that the local government councils might not be able to replicate it was rejected by the unions.
Gov Abdulrazaq was further accused of reportedly using his decision to embark on another round of workers biometric as an escapist strategy and a ploy to buy time.
Details of the meeting which was posted on the twitter handle of the Governor (13th, 2020) and visited last night by this reporter were rubbished by many of the respondents within and outside the state.
According to the Governor shortly after the “consultation” meeting, he “was hesitant to ink the minimum wage deal with labour because he was not convinced that the local government councils can afford the table that the negotiation panel proposed.
“(I) was ready to sign the deal if (I) would not be held responsible if the councils default. The councils are at present struggling to pay the N18,000 minimum wage and even had to draw from their savings and IGR before paying February salary.
“Since we came on board, this administration (has)… allowed LGs to have control of their money. Yes I do understand that it (minimum wage) is dragging but we need to get it right.
“When we came on board we saw a lot of gaps in salary payment. We saw that N18,000 minimum wage was not fully implemented. And we saw that there were lots of casual workers…Now moving forward with the new minimum wage, we do not want a repeat of that situation; we want everybody to get their salaries as and when due. We found out that the local governments cannot pay the scale which we are looking at and ready to sign. The understanding is that the state and local government must pay on the same template/scale.
“If it is about going ahead and signing what is popular, I can sign today. But it is a choice between signing or doing what is popular and what is right or practicable. I can sign a popular deal today with the unions but by January next year, the local governments would be owing their staff close to N8billion. Then that is when the major strike will come in. This is something I really do not want. We therefore need to mitigate the situation and find a lasting solution to what we are doing…”, he added.
However, many respondents condemned the Governor for reportedly reneging on his earlier promise to pay the new minimum wage adding that the position of the Governor only reinforced the narrative that the last administration implemented the N18,000 contrary to what the people had been made to believe.
Some of the comments read: “Sir N18,000 can only afford a bag of rice oo, no stew or soup yet. How do they pay N30,000 minimum wage? That’s why you’re the head. You must find a way out oo Mr Otoge” – El-Kingz @owums.
“Please what about the 2billion naira Saraki is accused of collecting from the state. That will go a long way sir” – Lawal Kamaldeen Olaide @kamaldeenlawal
“Your Excellency sir, what is now our hope on this minimum wage issue. As in when will u commence the payment of this minimum wage of a thing because the civil servants are really starving and can’t even boost to other civil servants in other states of the salary they earn” – Ajiboye Ademola Nurudeen @ Vanity 1989
“Are you saying only the state will be paying 30,000 minimum wage and the LG won’t pay or you are trying to harmonise both local government with the state minimum wages for a concurrent conclusion? Or better still you are asking for more time to come to a conclusion – Abbey Babs @AbbeyBabsSP1
“Why can’t you reduce the cost of governance? Why is that it’s the poor workers that have to bear the burden always? May God help this country with leaders that will make sacrifices and have mercy on the common man? – MYADMISSIONLINK @IjmbAdmissions
“We don’t understand our Governor again on minimum wages”…, “Long story, with all this your bla bla, you can pay N30k, na to back bag you sabi, “We thought you had all this facts when your party promised labour in the build up to the election – Anthony Henry @MR_Anthony
“We were made to understand that the last admin didn’t just want to pay out of sheer wickedness. God dey!”, “This might sound like a joke but it really isn’t” and
“Your Excellency sir, why don’t you work on probably reducing the salaries and/or allowances of the political office holders… I am El-kay Cee @ El_KayCee
Below are other comments from respondents:
“If federal monthly allocation is insufficient, why can’t the State Govt argument the LGA salary shortfalls from the over 2b+ Naira monthly IGR as Subvention to the LGA. In the alternative adopt the Abdulfatah Ahmed ingenious practice –
“Sir, the people of Kwara voted for u because they believe in u and tired of self centered government. Sir, find solution to this minimum wages saga and make the state civil servant happy and not regretting their action in voting you in.
“Appreciate your transparency however all your points were well articulated on hindrance of the minimum wage in our state but what’s the way forward? Kwara civil service can’t continue to be living in abject poverty”
“Sir you have made it clear that current minimum wage in Kwara state is 18k which mean we are moving to 30k, but sir you can remembered during your campaign your party said last admin did not pay 18k so it means you lied to win”.