As workers in Ekiti State begin their strike today over their five months’ unpaid salaries and last year December deductions, the court-validated Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), in the state, Mr. Kolawole Olaiya, criticised Governor Ayo Fayose, saying “it is quite unfortunate that Ekiti workers could be going through this present situation despite their supports for Fayose.”
Olaiya, who condemned Fayose for what he described as insensitivity on his part to the plight of the workers, pointed out that “the Governor brought Ekiti workers to the present situation as result of his wasteful spending”.
Olaiya pointed out that Fayose’s inability to pay workers’ salaries could not be justified when his administration was spending billions of naira to construct a flyover in Ado Ekiti and said that the shortfall of allocation from the Federation Account was not enough an excuse not to pay workers.
He told journalists in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, on Wednesday, that the Fayose administration was owing workers five months’ salaries and that it was an indication that “Ekiti has become a failed state”, for failing to perform the basic function of paying its employees.
Olaiya’s chairmanship of Ekiti TUC was affirmed by a judgment delivered by the Nigeria Industrial Court, Akure Division, in October 2013, which ruled that his tenure expired in October 2016.
The TUC Chairman, who also expressed regrets that retirees, who were being owed about six months arrears of pensions were dying at home for non-payment of their benefits, declared that unless the state government acceded to the demands of labour by midnight of Wednesday, an industrial action would commence on Thursday.
Olaiya said: “Every government is created for the security and welfare of the people and it is criminal for any government not to pay its workers’ salaries, as it is in Ekiti State.
“In a situation where a government cannot pay for five months, such a government is a failed government. All the indices on display in Ekiti, presently, show that it has become a failed state.
“We don’t expect Governor Fayose to be treating workers like this; he should not compensate them with suffering and non-payment of their salaries after they voted him to power and welcomed him to office amidst singing and dancing.
“His own is a failed state. The governor is not doing anything to improve upon the welfare of the people. Look at the flyover being constructed, that is not the priority of our people.
“The workers have resolved not to go to work again because they don’t have the money to feed and transport themselves to their offices. The situation is so bad and what I am saying can be verified by anybody.”
He said that despite “The huge money made from internally generated revenue (IGR), taxes and levies, he cannot account for the IGR. When Fayemi was there, the IGR was N300 million and the monthly wage bill was N2.2 billion.
“But Fayose is now saying that his own monthly wage is N2.6 billion and he is not paying monthly stipends to the aged. He has scrapped peace corps, youth volunteer scheme. People are retiring from service and no recruitment has been done to replace them.”
When reminded that the government always pointed to dwindling allocation from the federal purse, Olaiya said the excuse was not tenable, because the “Fayose regime now generates huge revenues locally” and scrapped empowerment programmes carried out by the immediate past administration.
Olaiya added: “This is not the issue because the allocation to this state is published monthly and we challenge Governor Fayose to tell the whole world how much he had received so far from the Federation Account.”