By Odunayo Oluwabukola, Ibadan
An appeal has gone to Oyo State workers to compliment the efforts the government is making on their welfare by being reflective when considering nation-wide strike.
In a release by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, on Friday, no state in the federation places more emphasis on the well-being of its workers than the present administration: Not even richer states.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress, Oyo State branch, gave the State government till the end of October, 2023 to increase minimum wage by N30, 000 for civil servants and N20, 000 for pensioners, as approved by the Federal government, to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
Prince Oyelade said that without being advised by the state NLC, the Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde out of his personal discretion, set up a committee on June 5, 2023, to review salaries of workers, barely a week after President Tinubu’s announcement of the removal of subsidy.
This same administration has consistently for 55 months, paid workers’ salaries on or before the 25th of every month, and paid 13th month salaries for 4 years, which now includes state pensioners.
The Commissioner asked workers and the people of the State to remember that the Seyi Makinde-led administration at inception increased payment of gratuities to pensioners from N100m to over N200m every month. In fact, only last month, cheques worth N208m were released as gratuities to pensioners in Oyo State.
While it is a fact that the financial state of the nation requires increment of workers’ salaries, Oyo State workers equally reserve the right to seek local solutions in dialogue with a friendly government, especially on issues that are not caused by the State Government, such as the fuel subsidy removal.
According to the release, the State government has responded swiftly and effectively to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal by setting up the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER) intervention in the State, which is addressing the current economic realities in the state.
In this regard, different types of essential food items are being distributed to the poorest of the poor, while 46 buses are plying roads in Oyo State, at subsidised fares.
Farmers and young entrepreneurs are being assisted with N1.5bn soft loans, through zonal Microfinance banks, while pensioners and other vulnerable in the society are being assisted through specially designed free healthcare schemes.
The third face of SAfER will take off in due course.
It is on record also, that the Oyo State government started the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, over 3 years ago, yet up till now, some states in the federation are still struggling to pay the old wage.
The challenges of paying N7.3 billion monthly salaries notwithstanding, the Seyi Makinde administration distributed 7,000 letters of promotion to qualified civil servants just last week.
Prince Oyelade said, “we are talking about an administration that has made covenant with its workforce and local dialogue and understanding should take precedence over instructions from elsewhere”.
Beyond ultimatum and deadline, labour leaders should take advantage of the cordial relationship that exists between them and the government and accept the olive branch.