Yahaya Bello's Civil Service Reform and Salary Arrears Debacle In Kogi

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Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello is one of the most criticized governors in Nigeria due to perceived inability to clear salary backlogs which predated his administration. It’s a known fact that the dwindling in oil revenue since 2014 led to decrease in monthly allocation to states from federation account, thus hindering smooth running of government activities including payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.

Although, federal government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari released bail out fund for states to pay outstanding salaries but the Kogi experience was different as Governor Yahaya Bello met worse situation on ground. The unfriendly situation he met upon assumption of office in January 2016 include; outstanding salaries/pensions (eight months for State workforce and 25 months percentage for LG workers), porous civil service administration/payroll system and FG dependent economy.

Therefore, the governor introduced screening exercise for workforce to sanitize the civil service as well as clean up the payroll. This move was part of holistic approach geared towards actualising The New Direction Agenda for Kogi and put the confluence state on path of sustainable progress.

Admittedly, the screening process affected salary/pension payment but it’s a child necessity like Treasury Single Account (TSA), Bank Verification Number (BVN), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Biometric Data Verification for pensioners implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari at the federal level. The screening exercise that covers certificate verification, Biometric Data Capturing and forensic investigations led to discovery of over 5000 ghost workers with additional 5000 others culpable of certificate forgery and other sharp practices. The sanitization of payroll system is going gradually in many states of the federation. Osun state government recently uncovered about 1000 staff involved in certificate infractions while neighbouring states: Kwara, Nasarawa and Ekiti have done the same.

However, some mafias and politicians are cashing on the pathetic situation which calls for sober reflections to dent the image of Governor Yahaya Bello as well as overblown it for selfish interest. For records, some states including those receiving higher allocation than Kogi are still battling with issue of salary backlogs even up to 24months percentage.

Furthermore, the fifth columnists have turned this emotional issue to daily topic by spreading false information to rubbish APC led government in Kogi state. Hence, the need to set the record straight as Kogi state average monthly allocation before 2018 is N2.5billion and currently at N3.5-4billion with wage bill of N2.8billion. Apart from that, the state also needs use the scarce resources to provide social amenities, infrastructure, attend to every sector, meet yearning of artisans, traders and other stratum of the society, run government activities and service loan.

Despite the backbreaking challenges Governor Bello has reduced the salary arrears to four months for Kogi State Government workers except for judicial staff and Local government staffers are owed over 20months percentage (not full salary) and paying pensioners base on availability of fund.

As at today Kogi state government is owing State workers four months salary covering March-June 2019 and will be cleared when the new direction receive credit of N30billion bailout. The arrears of local government staff, pensioners and judicial workers would be taken of. The governor has ordered full payment for local government staff across the state as a result of increment in allocation from FAAC.

It’s noteworthy that the energetic and resourceful governor was able to achieve this through significant improvement in Kogi state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N300million to over N1.3billion monthly, block leakages in government activities and innovate processes assisting the state to get value for money.

It’s therefore imperative for civil servants to continue to show understanding and avoid temptation from desperate politicians scheming towards using them against the state government while Kogites should keep hope alive because Governor Yahaya Bello is committed towards making Kogi a better place for all

By Media Strike Squad

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