Engr. Musa Wada On Workers Welfare

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One of the worst crime against humanity under the sun is to allow your people wake up everyday, dress up, and go to work, and then deprive them of their wages. Not one month. Not two months. Not three months. Not…. It is pure evil, abject callousness and totally undefendable. Salaries are the least of all the responsibilities of any government or leader for which there must NEVER be an excuse.
Welcome to the world of Kogi State Government service, where the least owed workers have three months in arrears and the most unlucky have salary arrears in excess of 22 months. An average worker would fall anywhere in the range of 3-22 months. Only for the government to suddenly wake up one morning, three months to the governorship election and realize the need to start paying workers. KOGITES ARE NOT FOOLS.
Today, this gross symptom of ineptitude and leadership failure has become the defining characteristic of our government at the State and LG level. And they are shamelessly proud of it. And the people continue to groan in utter haplessness, helplessness and hopelessness with no money to pay school fees, hospital bills, house rents, electricity bill, and even transport fares to go to work; same work they have no hope of ever being paid.
Yet, the State continue to receive monthly share of allocation to states. Yet, their wives live in affluence, their concubines live in opulence, their children pay school fees in dollars…. This is totally unacceptable!
It doesn’t matter party affiliation, or where your allegiance belongs. What is not defendable is not defendable. The greatest disservice that anyone can engage in is to openly defend the decision of the government not to pay salaries to workers across the tiers of government.
As salary payments are in the breach in Kogi, workers in the state face hardship and those who are not considering suicide and crime devise means of survival, even as Governor Yahaya Bello grows more bellicos.
Months of unpaid salaries and bad governance have pushed many lives on the edge in the Confluence State. Things got to an abysmal low recently when a civil servant, Edward Soje hung on a tree in order to disconnect from the myriad challenges of life. Late Soje was a 54-year-old level 16 director with the State Teaching Service Commission.
Hunger is palpable in Kogi. The situation is compounded by the fact of its being a civil service state. There are very few industries. Thus, any time government is unable to discharge its responsibility to workers, the economy slips into coma. The spiral effect of unpaid wages rebounds in all sectors of the state’s economy.
Since the current salary situation entered crisis level, many inhabitants of Kogi State have devised new skills for survival. Those lost to conscience have embraced stealing, cybercrime and other easy virtues for survival. Many have thrown away their self esteem in preference for street begging. Not a few of the workers in Lokoja and the hinterland have embraced this practice. It is therefore not unusual to find well dressed men and women hanging around restaurants, bus terminals, worship centers and other pliable locations asking for alms. Others take up more respectable ventures, converting their motor cycles, Keke Mawa (tricycle) or vehicles into commercial ends. This is what the government of the day has turned the State into. Edward Soje’’s suicide and the last strike opened the eye of the world to the humanitarian disaster gradually incubating in Kogi. It took the death of Soje for government to acknowledge there was a problem.
A year ago, Kogi State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teacher, NUT, lamented the death of hundreds of their members due to hunger and starvation over non-payment of their salaries. The state Chairman of NUT, Comrade Ayodele Thomas, told journalists in Lokoja that, “teachers are being owed up to 15 to 25 months salaries.” As at then. According to him, “the situation has created some critical health challenges for some members.”
Even if you have a heart made of stone, her story will surely melt it and make you cry. Her name is Mrs. Fatima Noah. A widow and an office cleaner with Kogi State Judiciary, for months, she scrounged for anything she can find, to feed herself and her family, in the face of several months of working without salary, later compounded by more months of “indefinite strike.”
But three days after the call-off of the strike, she slumped and died penultimate, while waiting for the state government to fulfill its promise of paying the workers their salary arrears. Known and addressed by fellow workers and friends as “Mama Danladi,” while alive, so-called, after her first son, she lost her husband about six years ago, leaving her with little or nothing to care for the two children he left behind. But being a government worker, she was somehow able to cope with the family demands with the meagre salary she was being paid.
That was before the state judiciary workers, Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN), Kogi State branch, embarked on ‘indefinite’ strike over non-payment of their salaries by the state government for more than six months. But before government could make good its promise to pay up the workers after about four months strike ended, owing to the intervention of National Judicial Commission (NJC), in the trade dispute, it had taken a great toll on the poor woman who depended on the little salary she was receiving to take care of her family needs.
It was a dark Monday, last year, at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital Lokoja as the Head of Department of Internal Medicine, Dr Chukwudibe Rosemary suddenly died over alleged unpaid salaries. This can not continue. The greatest disaster to ever befall our KOGI is having GYB as the governor of the State.
Payment of salary should not be celebrated in the media as an achievement of government.
Engr. MUSA Wada administration shall create jobs for our people and ensure their salaries are timely paid. Payment of salaries to civil servants is a cardinal function of government, second only to providing security. It shall therefore not to be celebrated in the media as an achievement of government.
Workers are entitled to their wages. Have they not provided services that should be compensated? If they have, why the plentiful praises whenever an elementary statutory obligation such as payment of workers salary is performed?
KOGI is our home. Let us now turn it into the great State we know it can and should be.
Thank you all.
Together, we shall build the KOGI of our dreams..
•Dr. M. A. Williams, PhD, MINCAS
Director, Media and Strategic Communications
Tell: +234(0) 802 237 3296
Twitter: @MusaWada2019

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