According to saharareporters, civil servants in Ondo State have continued to grumble over yet to be paid August salaries and entitlements owed them by the state government. Employees of the state allege the governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, used their salaries for politicking and want him to publicly address them on the reasons for the delay in their payment.
The workers have also vowed to take their anger to the streets if the state government fails to do something urgently about their salaries.
Workers disdainfully blamed the state leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for being hoodwinked by the administration, and accused the union of always been ‘cajole’ by the state government when it comes to workers urgent plight.
Despite the tension, one member of the service told a SaharaReporters correspondent, “its not too bad if the government still owed them [workers] their August salary since September has not ended. They can still endure.”
Firing back, the workers criticized that thinking, saying, “Anyone who said is too early for us to start demanding for our unpaid August salary is insane, or he or she is a politician like Mimiko, who is now fond of playing politics with everything in the state.”
A SaharaReporters correspondent gathered that the state governor had met with the leadership of the workers under the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) and offered them half payment of their salary but rejected it and asked for a full pay.
Government officials at the meeting were said to have informed the leadership of the workers that the dwindling allocation from the federal account to the state is causing the delay in their salary.
The workers said they could not verify such government claims on the dwindling allocation.
Different sources in the government circle have been telling SaharaReporters that a proposed National Executive Council meeting (NEC) and convention of the Labour Party (LP) slated to hold in Ondo State might also be a reason for the delay, though this claim could not be verified.
The sources said the governor is already keeping and saving money to host the NEC meeting, booking several hotels in the state.
However on Tuesday, a high profile officer, who pleaded anonymity at the governor’s office in Akure, told our correspondent that “the state is in serious financial calamity and has been battling with unpaid debt.”
“What is currently on in the state is affecting everybody because the state is in a serious debt. Our borrowed fund has not been completed. What I can tell you now is that the state is in a serious financial mess and calamity.”
Investigations carried out by SaharaReporters’ office in Akure indicated that debt deductions were made from allocations that came into the state from the federal account, thereby leaving the state with little.
Impeccable sources at the State Ministry of Finance and the office of the Head of Service (HOS), hinted that a loan secured by the state government around February/March 2012 to run many of its ‘customized projects’ is also taking its toll on the allocation of the state.
“The government is now paying back the loan every month in the tune of billions and this is affecting the federal allocation coming into the state. The debt is now removed every month immediately the money enters into the state account,” source said.
“Many of the projects crested with Labour Party logos and colors carried out and initiated by government in the state were done on a borrowed fund. Now, we are reaping what we sow because it’s affecting everybody,” our sources said.
Underground findings by SaharaReporters revealed that after several debt deductions from the allocation of the state what is left behind in the account is not enough to ensure worker’s salaries in the state.
Local loans from banks in the state amounting into billions of Naira also exhausted what comes into the state due to charges of interest on such loans by the banks.
Calculations of reports, researched upon by our correspondent, indicated that Ondo State under the current administration has a debt profile of over N17billion on gratuities for both the state and its local government.
Despite such, higher institutions owned by the state government receives over millions of Naira for subvention monthly while state media stations including the Ministry of information also receive grants close to billions for their running cost.
Worse, millions of Naira termed “special fund” for the governor, with other unnecessary allowances needed to run the offices of the governor, deputies, commissioners, special advisers and other appointees is contributing to the mess in the account of the state.
Financial analysts in the state told SaharaReporters that mismanagement and unnecessary government portfolios with heavy pay and costly incentives under the present administration also contributed to the dwindling fortune of the state.
“Just go around those major markets in the state capital alone, some of these PAs were given offices, personal vehicles and servants on a running cost. These things are unnecessary because it flouts cost in the government,” an analyst said.
In a recent press briefing at the cocoa conference hall of the governor’s office in Alagabaka, Akure, the State Head of Service, Toyin Akinkuotu, was quick to tell journalists that close to N5billion was always budgeted for workers salary in the state.