by Segun Odeleye
Civil servants have not had the easiest of times in Benue state in the last one year. The state became the only state in Nigeria in the last four years where primary school teachers have gone on strike for eight months. The teachers only called off the strike on August 1.
However that came with another problem: The governor said he was going to slash the salaries of other civil servants in the state in order to be able to pay the minimum wage. As expected, workers protested and closed offices.
The governor has now suspended that directive to slash salaries following the protests, but there is still another problem. Gov. Suswam’s administration has not paid civil servants in the state for three months.
But all these has not stopped the governor from going ahead in pursuing his ambition to represent the Benue North East senatorial district in the national assembly. In fact, on the day Suswam got his PDP nomination form, he boasted that: “To demonstrate my commitment to free and fair elections, I will not even be in the state on the day of the election; this is to tell you that I don’t have to be around to win elections in this state.”
The Benue government is now moving to calm civil servants down following the delay in salary payment. The state’s commissioner of information, Justin Amase, said that the workers will soon be paid their due.
According to him, Benue is not the only state where payment is being delayed. He urged the workers to bear with the government, stating that the delay is because there is shortfall in monies coming into the state due to the shortfall in Nigeria’s crude oil earnings following the United State’s cut in the nation’s oil import, may effect the economy for some time.
He promised however that the Governor Gabriel Suswam’s administration would not leave behind arrears of salaries, and that a committee to enhance internally generated revenue has been set up to remedy the situation.
He pleaded with the leaders of the labour unions to explain things to their members. According to the commissioner, the solution to the problem cannot be arrived t overnight, since it is a national problem.