How Kogi Govt ‘Casualise’ LG Workers, Teachers’ Emoluments Since 2016

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  • Primary School Teachers, LG Workers and Pensioners Forcefully Paid Between 30-35% of Their Monthly Salaries

All is not well with civil servants and pensioners at the third tier of government in Kogi state. They are in a state of hopelessness and helplessness as they continue to suppress their pains occasioned by financial constraints.

It is no news that local government workers, basic education teachers and pensioners have endured percentage salaries and pensions for years. They have protested, cried, appealed and written series of letters to the state government, all to no avail. Their jobs and emoluments have been ‘casualized’ as they have forced to take home between 30-35% of their pay, despite protests.

Many have died while waiting for payment of full salaries and pensions while others are battling with health challenges and inability to meet basic needs.

The labour unions – NULGE, NUT, MHWU, NUP, and NASU – who are saddled with the responsibility of championing the cause of these distraught workers seems to have lost their voice, or accepted the situation as normal.

The affected civil servants and pensioners have threatened to pull out these unions and have come together under another labour platform, Joint Workers Union of workers on local government payroll.

They bemoaned the inability of their respective labour unions to positively engage the government for improved welfare of their members, describing it as “seriously worrisome and unacceptable”.

In a recent letter written to the Kogi State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Joint Workers Union, spelt out their demands in clear terms.

In the letter signed by the Joint Workers Union’ coordinator, Comrade Abdullahi Rufai, they did not ask for the new N30,000 minimum wage but pleaded that they be paid hundred percent of the old N18,000 wage. It is that bad. They have not enjoyed 100% of the old minimum wage, hence, there is no need to start agitating for the new minimum wage.

The primary and junior secondary school teachers have voiced out their frustrations.

Speaking through the Basic Education Teachers Association of Nigeria (BESAN), in unequivocal terms, they called on Kogi state government to stop the payment of percentage salaries to teachers in the state.

In an open letter sent the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and signed by the state Chairman and Secretary of BESAN, Mr Onotu Yahaya and Mr Tope Akinlabi respectively, BESAN explained that monthly payment of 35 per cent salary to its members from January till date is disheartening and an aberration in the history of education in the state.

They also demanded the full implementation of the old N18, 000 minimum wage for teachers in primary and junior secondary schools in Kogi state to arrest the dwindling fortunes of basic education in the state.

BESAN lamented that while other civil servants in the state are already enjoying the minimum wage, teachers in basic education sector are subjected to pitiable payment of percentage salaries.

BESAN presented a worrisome trend of percentage payment and variance in percentage on local government basis.

YearMonth% Paid
20163 Months60% Bailout
2016 MarchJune 201760% Salary
2017 JulyAugust 201740% Salary
2017 SeptemberJanuary 201825% Salary
2018 FebruaryAugust 201820% Salary
2018 SeptemberDecember 201840% Salary
2019 JanuaryApril 201940% Salary
2019 MayJuly 201980% Salary
2019 AugustDecember 201950% Salary
2020 JanuaryTill Date35% Salary
Percentage payment of salaries to teachers from 2016 till date. Source: BESAN

BESAN also complained that the percentage salaries paid to worker vary from one local government to another. With specific reference to Adavi local government where some categories of workers get paid while others are left unpaid.

“We have observed with dismay, situations whereby local government authorities paid salaries of staff at variance of percentage. At times some local government authorities skipped whole month percentage payment. Specific instance is Adavi local goverment area that paid the percentage salary for January 2020 to primary school teachers while local government staff are yet to be paid.

“It is also important to let your Excellency know that basic education percentage salaries are, in recent time, no longer being paid uniformly, but haphazardly. While some local governments pay in the first week of another month, some pay even in third week of the same month, whereas our counterparts (civil servants) in the state receive theirs before the end of the same month. We don’t know the reasons behind these disparities.

“Both local government staff and teacher pensioners go to the same market as state workers. The most disheartening aspect of our plight, your Excellency, is the fluctuating percentage salary payment since your administration came on board,” BESAN said.

They appealed to Governor Bello to grant express approval for the implementation of 100% N18,000 minimum wage as enjoyed by their colleagues in the state workforce.

Serving Teachers in Kogi State Are Afraid of Retirement

BESAN declared that teachers in the basic education sector of Kogi state currently afraid of retiring from service because of the unpleasant conditions of pensioners.

“Your Excellency, it is usually a thing of joy for a teacher to proceed on retirement after meritorious active service. Today, serving teachers of the basic education sector in Kogi state are afraid of retirement due to the unpleasant condition into which retirees are usually subjected.

“In the past, as soon as a teacher proceeds on retirement leave, gratuity will be prepared while the monthly pension commences immediately. Today, the salary is stopped and no placement on pension until after a year or more without arrears.

“Gratuity is usually paid in bulk for the pensioners to invest to keep life going. But currently, the issue of gratuity is now a mirage with flimsy excuses given which inflict excruciating agony on the retirees and their families.

“Retired and retiring teachers should be given a pride of place by paying their gratuity and pension promptly, not percentage payment, to save them from the agony of retirement hardship and untimely death.”

Commenting on the travail of workers in the local government segment of Kogi state, a retired teacher, Comrade Abiodun Elesho said it is disheartening to see some Kogi pensioners earning as little as 1000 naira per month.

“They cried for harmonisation to no avail. Those who retired in 2011 to 12 were retired based on Relativity. Those teachers who retired in 2013 and 2014 were retired on 60% minimum wage while their local government counterparts were fully paid and their gratuity paid accordingly.

“These sad disparities are what pensioners hoped that Yahaya Bello administration will correct and harmonise. Unfortunately, this government came in 2016 to introduce screening which left many pensioners unpaid till date. Many died in the process while thousands are struggling between life and death. They are beggars in town. When the screening was suspended and workers were paid 13 months arrears of unpaid salaries, some local governments paid 60% of the total sum while others paid full. Yagba East, for example, paid 60% of what is expected to be their pension while the outstanding till date is missing. Thank God, no body can press for the payment.

“Since this payment, the Pensioners have been receiving 50% of their meagre pension till 2018. Thereafter it has been between 35-40% pension. This rate equally applies to primary school teachers till date. The worst of it is that, after payment of all sectors, pensioners will wait for weeks before they are paid. As I have said , the teachers are equally affected. The thirteen months arrears were paid to field teachers while the Education office workers of Mopamuro and Yagba East, to my knowledge, were not paid a dime up till date. Those affected are officers on levels 10 and above. The amount involved in Yagba East is 66 million naira while that of Mopamuro is 44million naira.

“Implementation of promotions and incremental rates are things of the past while leave bonus is a taboo. This is sad. On monthly basis, workers are committing suicide. One did in Isanlu when he drank sniper on Tuesday this week,” Elesho said.

Workers Demand Independent Staff, Payroll Audit

The Joint Workers Union, as part of its demands, called all unions in the local government sector to collate and publish the monthly salaries/pensions paid to their members on a month-by-month basis from January 2016 to date so that government will get to know the true state of their welfare.

They also mandated Unions to carry out an independent staff and payroll audit to ascertain the staff strength and the financial implications. The audit will also give clear analysis of LG share of allocation in Kogi state, the staff strength of each LGAs, wage bill and payment made each month of allocation received. This, they said, will enable the unions engage the government better.

They also called for the return of payment of salary and pension to the various LGAs and LGEAs.

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