None of Nigeria’s 36 states apart from Lagos is up-to-date on payment of salaries and benefits, the president of the Trade Union Congress, Bobboi Kaigama has said.
According to Mr Kaigama, despite the federal government’s bailout and Paris Club refunds, the state governments owe their workers one form of benefit or the other, including salaries.
The TUC president made this disclosure on Friday at the Congress’ National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos. A communique from the event was circulated to the media on Wednesday.
Mr Kaigama warned against diversion of money meant for workers’ salaries as well as other benefits into electioneering expenditure by state governments.
“We want to say without fear of contradiction that the only healthy state in this country that has no arrears of salaries and other wages or unpaid benefits is Lagos State. All the other states have one issue or the other in terms of salaries, wages or benefits of their workers that have not been paid. There is no exception.
“You will find out that, if it is not one month’s salary that is not paid, it would be 13 months of gratuities or pensions that have not been paid. Or that contributory pension deductions are not being remitted or that there are certain promotion arrears and death benefits that have not been paid. So, I am telling you, taking this issue holistically, we can only say Lagos State is the only healthy state in this country.”
“We keep saying that, if state governors cannot meet their obligations to their workers, they should just resign and leave the stage. We have continued to argue that, apart from the first generation states that were created by the military, there is no state that was created thereafter that did not have its submission that the state had the capacity to pay the wages of the workers in the state and other things.”
He said the view that Nigeria should return to regional government was not misplaced because the trust of workers in state government has been eroded.
“So, if it is just for the purposes of payment of salaries, no other developmental issues like infrastructure, health facilities, roads, rails transportation and so on, we are better off with regional government,” the TUC president said.
Mr Kaigama added that corruption is what has made governors to owe workers.
Mr Kaigama’s claim of states’ indebtedness to workers has however been faulted by some states like Enugu where its Nigeria Labour Congress chairman said the state government does not owe any worker.