Former labour leader decries non-payment of workers’ salaries
The Boko Haram insurgency in the North East is not enough to justify the irregularity in the payment of workers salaries in the region, a former Borno state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Zannah Shettima has said.
Shettima, who was also the State Secretary of NLC in 1998 before emerging the Chairman a year later, lauded the achievements of the immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, for laying a solid foundation for any labour leader that wishes to venture into the murky waters of politics to do so without any fear of failure.
He explained that workers especially those in Borno state found themselves in a difficult situation since the insurgency began as the state has now joined the league of states that are not paying salaries as at when due.
“In the whole of North East, Borno state used to be one of the states that have been paying salaries regularly, but today, we have unfortunately joined states that do not pay salaries regularly”, he said.
Shettima was quick to add that the commencement of the verification exercise by the state government has compounded workers woes. While admitting that the verification exercise indeed showed there were sharp practices, he lamented slow wheel of justice in dispensing appropriate punishment to those found culpable.
His words: “To me, the culprits were found. I mean those inflating figures, those adding to the salaries, those who brought in the ghost people, when the salaries of people in parastatals shot up from N40 million to N50 million per month. But instead of the government punishing such people, they are now punishing the innocent civil servants.
“There are workers, who have not been paid for onward of between three to four months in the state, and the last month salary is yet to be paid by the state government so I cannot just imagine. It is so pathetic. It is a pity that the workers have found themselves. Keep recession aside, we know what comes to the state, we know the real salary of the people, but people in government do not want to face the reality.”
Shettima said the outcome of the 2015 general election has re-established his faith in the workings of the democratic process that indeed there can be a level playing field in the political arena.
While noting that it was not all hope lost as there were some people that could make the difference, he pointed at Oshiomhole’s tenure as Edo state governor as a shining footprint that for labour leaders to follow.
His words: “Well the problem is that when you say labour leaders cannot make good political leaders is dependent on the peoples’ perspectives and everybody knows the struggle that Oshiomhole went through before he became the governor. He won the election first, it was rigged, he went to the court, he fought from the court and the court gave him the mandate.
“The eight years he spent was marvelous. He was one of the best governors that have touched on the lives of Edo people. This is practical, it was known all over in terms of education, developmental and structural developments, in terms of improving the socio-economy of that state.
“Oshiomhole has performed wonderfully well and we are very much proud of him. These are some of the things that pushed some of us into politics.”
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