Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed and his Gombe State, counterpart, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya recently bagged pro-labour awards from the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC). This is despite workers’ ordeals under their leadership
The union presented the award to Mohammed at the union’s special award presentation ceremony held at International Conference Center, Abuja.
The National President of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, explained that Governor Mohammed was selected for the award in recognition of his administration’s prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions, as well as his outstanding contributions towards the promotion of workers’ rights and welfare.
Similarly, Governor Yahaya got accolades from the union. Osifo said the governor was selected in recognition of his excellent policies and commitment to promoting decent work agenda.
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He lauded Governor Yahaya’s administration’s prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions as well as the clearing of a backlog of gratuities owed retirees by previous administrations in his state, and other pro-workers policies.
However, findings revealed that the two neighbouring states owed staff salaries for months and pensions for years. The affected civil servants, however, suffer untold hardship.
For instance, in August 2021, some teachers in Bauchi State, lamented non-payment of their salaries by the government. Some of them said they were being owed 59 months’ arrears, a claim Governor Bala refuted. In June 2022, the Bauchi state tertiary institutions under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee, JAC, declared a two-week warning strike over unpaid salary arrears to its members.
The institutions were Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, ATAP; Aminu Saleh College of Education, ASCOE, College for Legal and Islamic Studies, CLIS, College of Agriculture, Bauchi and the College of Education, Kangere. The union said the action became an imperative sequel to the expiration grace of time given to the state government.
In January 2022, WikkiTimes also revealed that contrary to claims by the Bauchi State government of paying pensioners, retired civil servants in the state have been denied payments.
A few months back, WikkiTimes reported how a 66-year-old pensioner in Bauchi was going through hurdles with 20 family members he looks after amid denied entitlements and pension arrears.
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Also, in Gombe, staff members of the State Environmental Protection Agency had in June last year, protested at the government house over unpaid salaries.
The staff had a similar protest in April, calling on Governor Yahaya to consider their plight and pay their outstanding entitlements.
Bauchi State has an average salary — N84,000 — for civil servants. This is based on the data collated by 8 employees ranging from Administrative Officer, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Civil Servant, Teacher, Account and Administration Officer, Staff Nurse etc.
While the average salary for Gombe State civil servants is N87,000 with data collated. And it is imperative to know that workers get short of their approved salaries due to taxes and numerous bills making them survive with the relegated amount.
Gombe State ‘commenced’ the implementation of N30,000 new minimum wage in January 2020 after a series of negotiations between the government team and organised labour as well as the Joint Negotiation Council.
According to the agreement signed by all the parties, the new minimum wage of N30,000 would be paid to civil servants, including those in local government areas and Local Education Authorities (LEA).
Nearly three years after Gombe implemented the minimum wage, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi approved the implementation of the consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage for the state civil servants in Grade 07 and above at both state and local government levels in December 2022.
The lingering issue of unpaid workers’ salaries in both states especially in Bauchi State has been a source of concern for many years.
Previous administrations had battled with settling most of the civil servants salaries, including teachers and health personnel who had not been paid for months.
The causes of delay or late payment of salaries are multifaceted and complex with some of the contributing factors including insufficient revenue of the states, high levels of corruption and mismanagement, and inadequate budgetary allocation.
The impact of non-payment of salary is significant, with many workers struggling to meet their basic needs, pay their bills, and take care of their families.