by Olusegun Adeniyi
Only lunacy can explain how with the two leading presidential candidates being from the north, all the violence and brigandage occurred in the south. To make matters worse, there are several Yoruba and Igbo people in Lagos and in the social media who are tearing at one another because of the manner in which they chose to exercise their franchise. This is one of the issues I plan to interrogate in my ongoing research into what happened before, during and after the 23 February 2019 presidential and national assembly elections – a project for which I have already attracted support.
Following the election, incendiary remarks against an ethnic group or religion on the basis of political differences has become the norm. But to develop as a nation, we must create the enabling environment that will give every citizen a true sense of belonging, irrespective of where they choose to reside or who they vote for during election periods. It is also important that those who call themselves leaders do not magnify differences in promotion of some selfish agenda. We will deal with this matter another day as the focus of this intervention is on the gubernatorial election scheduled to hold on Saturday in 30 states of the federation.
In his column yesterday, my colleague, Kayode Komolafe highlighted why “the choice of those to be in charge of the states deserves maximum attention” and I agree. When we talk about the millions of our children that are out of school, we are talking about the responsibility of states and local governments. When for instance, only 28 students registered from Zamfara State last year for the National Common Entrance examination into Federal Government Colleges, it is Governor Abdulazeez Yari that should be held accountable, not President Muhammadu Buhari. So, to the extent that we will choose those who control these states (and by implication those who to superintend the 774 local governments), Saturdays’ election is vital to the development of our country.
That Nigerians are more concerned about the federal government without paying much attention to what happens in the 36 states can be glimpsed from the manner in which many believe that the 2019 general election is over. A Twitter post by Senator Ben Bruce said as much last week and I corrected him, though several could not understand my point. If we are to develop as a nation, we must have responsible and responsive state governors. That explains why in the build-up to the gubernatorial election, I have decided to dig deep into the financial state of each of these states – not only regarding obligations to their workers but also their level of domestic indebtedness.
A revealing document from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) research department highlighted what each of the 36 states owed in salaries, gratuity, pension and other allowances as at 25th September 2018. Only five states are not owing workers: Jigawa, Katsina, Lagos, Niger and Yobe. But that is not a complete story because I also obtained another document from the Debt Management Office (DMO) of the domestic debts of each of the 36 states. Lagos of course has a debt portfolio of N501,849,813,426.84 which is the highest among the 36 states.
In addition to domestic debts, the remaining 31 states have different financial obligations to their workers even though Osun, Ogun, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Abia, Ekiti, Kwara, Nasarawa, Oyo and Ebonyi seem to be the most notorious in this respect. When you juxtapose the figures in the NLC document against the domestic debt obligations for each of the states in the DMO records as at September 2018, then those who aspire to be governors should look before they leap.
Let us begin with Kogi State where, according to the NLC document, payment of salaries is based on between 25 percent and 75 percent and is made arbitrarily to core civil servants (CCS) and teachers. The salaries owed to local government workers are 40 percent of January to November 2016 (11 months); 60 percent of December 2016 to May 2017 (six months); 75 percent of June 2017 to April 2018 (11 months) and 30 percent of May to June 2018 (two months). In Kogi State, no gratuity has been paid to CCS, teachers and local government workers for the past 12 years (from 2007 till date). Pension owed to CCS, teachers and local government workers are 40 percent arrears from 2017 and 35 percent arrears for 16 months. There has been no leave bonus and no salary increment since 2014 while some local government workers are currently owed salaries for as many as 17 months. Domestic debt stood at N92,614,036,949.95 as at September last year.
It is important to note that there will be no gubernatorial election in Kogi State on Saturday though the caveat I want to add, and this goes for every state, is that what I have highlighted are what was owed as at September 2018. Five more months have followed. So, it is certain that more debt has accumulated in Kogi and other states since then. It is possible, however, that some of these debts have been cleared.
In Ogun State where the incumbent governor is sponsoring a candidate in a party different from the platform on which he contested and won a senate seat last week, the NLC document reveals that part payment of salaries is being made without remitting relevant deductions for CCS, teachers and local government workers. CCS and teachers are also owed both pension and gratuity of six years and local government workers, seven years. “Deductions are not remitted with respect to cooperative, bank loans for 17 months; check off dues, seven months and contributory pension, 78 months,” according to the NLC. Domestic debt stood at N106,530,499,037.83.
Ebonyi State is another basket case. For three years, the government was paying 50 percent of salaries to CCS, teachers and local government workers who are owed the remaining 50 percent. As for gratuity, CCS are owed 60 percent of one year while teachers and local government workers are also owed 70 percent, also for one year. On pension, CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed 50 percent of three years based on the half salary that is being paid workers. Domestic debt stood at N55,168,747,532.82.
In Abia State, CCS are owed salaries of between two to 11 months; teachers, two to six months and local government workers, two months. In terms of gratuity, no worker in the state has been paid any for 16 years while the pension arrears are between three to 14 months. The rough estimate for pension and gratuity arrears, according to the NLC, is N25 billion. Mostly owed are teachers and health sector workers. Domestic debt as at September 2018 was N70,954,143,266.67.
In Osun State, there is a backlog of the balance of salaries paid between 26 percent and 50 percent for 33 months. Gratuity of 30 months is also owed to CCS, teachers and local government workers with one year leave bonus yet to be paid. The unremitted payment of contributory pension is estimated at about N50 billion while domestic debt stood at N153,411,852,210.56. In Ekiti State, salaries are owed CCS, teachers and local government workers for between four and seven months, same with gratuity and pension, all of which totaled about N32 billion. Domestic debt stood at N120,160,546,901.58.
In Imo State, the default on salary to CCS, teachers and local government workers was put at one month as at September 2018 but gratuity has not been paid to any worker across the board for the past 20 years. “The current government has neither paid gratuity nor pension in the last seven years. CCS have not been paid pension in 14 months. Workers of the bureau for public procurement and judiciary have not been paid salaries in 10 months and three months respectively”, says the NLC. Domestic debt stood at N101,964,536,533.04.
In Nasarawa State, local government workers are owed 25 percent salary for two years with gratuity of CCS, teachers and local government workers also owed for two years. Workers in the state are owed additional three months due to strike action. Domestic debt stood at N90,587,001,480.73. In Oyo State, teachers and local government workers are owed salaries of two years and one year respectively while CCS, teachers and local government are owed gratuity and pension of between six and 10 months. Domestic debt stood at N87,864,044,155.52.
In Benue State, the CCS are owed salary of six months; teachers, 11 months and local government workers, 10 months. Domestic debt stood at N90,947,215,113.69. In Kwara State, teachers and local government workers are owed salary of between four and eight months while CCS and teachers are owed gratuity of three years and local government workers, ten years. Teachers were owed pensions of between three to four months and local government workers, between seven and eight months. Promotion and annual increment are owed from 2013 till date. Domestic debt stood at N58,099,640,134.65.
In Adamawa State, teachers are owed salary of one month with local government workers owed five months while the CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed gratuity and pension of between five and seven years. Other unspecified allowances owed to CCS, teachers and local government workers are for four, eight and seven years respectively. Meanwhile, the domestic debt stood at N89,622,312,187.96. In Akwa Ibom State, the CCS are owed gratuity of two years with teachers and local government workers owed gratuity of six years. Meanwhile, leave grant and promotion arrears had also not been paid for between one to seven years for all these workers with pension arrears estimated at N20 billion while domestic debt stood at N206,635,585,551.76.
In Anambra State, the CCS gratuity had not been paid for two months with teachers and local government workers owed gratuity of one year. Domestic debt stood at N2,612,431,503.89. In Bauchi State, CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed gratuity of seven years while domestic debt stood at N92,331,867,052.13. In Bayelsa State, the CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed salary arrears of three months in 2016 with gratuity of six years due them. CCS, teachers and local government workers were owed pension arrears of five months in 2016. Domestic debt stood at N137,173,167,904.48.
In Borno State, pension harmonization was said to be a major issue especially for those that retired before 2011 with the CCS, teachers and local government workers owed gratuity of more than four years. “The government has been gradually offsetting the bills monthly though at a very small scale”, says the NLC document. Domestic debt stood at N74,262,318,468.58. In Cross River State, CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed gratuity of four years, totaling about N12 billion. Domestic debt stood at N124,275,227,312.63. Delta State is owing teachers and local government workers salaries of two months while domestic debt stood at N15,828,999,682.25.
In Edo State, gratuity for CCS, teachers and local government workers have not been paid for five years. CCS and teachers are owed salary of between six to seven months for 2012 and 2013 with local government workers owed for three months. Domestic debt stood at N78,420,169,849.22. In Enugu State, gratuity owed for five years to CCS, teachers and local government workers but it was being offset from May 2018 on monthly basis while the old debt of five years remains. Domestic debt stood at N54,924,144,261.83.
Gombe is owing CCS and teachers gratuity for five years and local government workers, seven years. An estimated N10 billon in gratuity is owed to workers in the state across board. Domestic debt stood at N55,921,171,267.58. In Kaduna State, CCS, teachers and local government workers owed both gratuity and pension of four years. The major debt is to school teachers including the newly recruited some of whom have not been paid for four months. Domestic debt stood at N90,135,552,871.99.
In Kano State, salary is said to be up to date except for the eight-month arrears in 2015 for health workers, secondary school teachers and corporate security. Gratuity owed CCS, teachers and local government workers from November 2015 is worth N14.2bn. Domestic debt stood at N104,404,045,266.80. In Kebbi State, there is an outstanding gratuity obligation of up to N6 billion for CCS, teachers and local government workers while domestic debt stood at N70,161,849,355.52. Ondo State is owning CCS gratuity of five years. Local government workers pension owed for one year. CCS, teachers and local government workers are owed one year allowances. Domestic debt stood at N49,867,757,811.07.
In Plateau State, the CCS, teachers and local government workers have not been paid gratuity since 2009. Domestic debt stood at N119,331,337,734.54. In Rivers State, CCS, teachers and local government workers have not been paid gratuity since 2014. Pension of CCS, teachers and local government workers were being updated but those retired in 2004 have not been added to the scheme. Domestic debt stood at N201,787,224,432.98. In Sokoto State, the CCS, teachers and local government workers have not been paid gratuity for eight years while domestic debt stood at N28,941,491,332.49.
In Yobe State, teachers and local government workers are owed salaries of two months. CCS are owed gratuity of eight years while teachers and local government workers were owed gratuity of four years. Domestic debt stood at N58,868,755,155.22. In Zamfara State, CSC, teachers and local government workers owed gratuity of four years with domestic debt of N65,946,215,562.73.
What the foregoing says is that more than at any period in our history, who the people elect at state level matters. With declining oil prices and dwindling production, there is even less money to ‘share’ from the federation account. A governor who is not creative will find it increasingly difficult to manage the affairs of his (and sadly not her) state.
In her convocation address at Babcock University in June 2014 titled “Transforming the Nigerian Economy: Opportunities and Challenges”, the then Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala asked salient questions: “Do the (36) states have the resources to deliver services? And why do some states happen to do more and better than others? How can we hold our states and local governments more to account, just as we hold the federal government to account? In terms of the resources, I can confidently say based on the available data that our states are reasonably well-resourced. But of course, I know all of them would want more revenue as we all do even at the federal level.”
Okonjo-Iweala, who explained that approximately half of Nigeria’s total government expenditure occurs at the level of the 36 states and 774 local governments, then broke some of the figures down: “If you look at allocations to states and local governments, there are some interesting trends. In 2013, the top 10 allocations went to the following states: Akwa Ibom (N260b or $1.7b); Rivers (N230b or $1.5b); Delta (N209b or $1.3b); Bayelsa (N173b or $1.1b); Lagos (N168b or $1.1b); Kano (N140b or $0.9b); Katsina (N103b or $0.7b); Oyo (N100b or $0.6b); Kaduna (N97b or $0.6b) and Borno (N94b or $0.6b). (Note that all this data does not include internally generated revenues (IGR) of these states, which are significant in some instances such as Lagos State, and very commendable)…”
After giving the breakdown, Okonjo-Iweala made her point: “Many Nigerian states receive revenue allocations which are larger than the budgets of neighbouring countries such as: Liberia ($433 million), or Gambia ($210 million) or Benin Republic ($1.47 billion). The top two recipients of state allocations–Akwa Ibom and Rivers–receive $3.1 billion, which is about half of the entire budget of Ghana (about $6.4 billion). On a per capita basis (i.e. revenues/population), the top three recipients of FAAC allocations are: Bayelsa (N84,500 or $545), Akwa Ibom (N55,600 or $360) and Delta States (N42,000 or $270). On this per capita basis, many Nigerian states receive more than neighbouring countries such as: Ghana ($255), Benin Republic ($146), Liberia ($103), and Gambia ($117)…”
Let me quickly point out that given the collapse of oil price, states do not receive as much as they were receiving during that period. In the face of dwindling resources amid growing challenges, what we need in the states are governors who can think outside the box. A few of those seeking re-election have proved themselves worthy while others have not. There are also outgoing governors who are scheming to install successors after bagging tickets to the Senate that has become their retirement home.
All said, for us to have accountable government in these states, residents must engage the process, beginning with the election of Saturday. They should go to the polls with the understanding that who they elect as governor will impact their lives and that of their children for the next four years.