Trade unionist seeks emergency in states over non-payment of salaries

By Toyin Durosinlohun, Ilorin

A former National Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu has urged the three arms of government to declare state of emergency on the current crisis over non-payment of workers’ in many states in Nigeria.

Speaking in Ilorin on Sunday, he added that the country should treat “wage-related crimes, non-payment, low payment, wage-diversions (so-called ghost payments) as economic crimes.”

Comrade Aremu said this during a Ramadan lecture organized by the state Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) to mark the first anniversary of the demise of the labour leader’s wife.

Aremu, who doubles as the General Secretary, National Union of Textile and Garment Workers Union

hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his recent condemnation of state governors who are unable to pay their workers.

He said “it is noteworthy that only President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly called a spade a spade and damned governors who had refused to pay salaries.

“Addressing State House staff, President Buhari again spoke the mind of labour that it ‘was a national disgrace’  that most states of the federation couldn’t pay salaries of their workers. Some of the salaries owning governors are simply shameless and disgraceful as President Buhari rightly observed.

“Anti-corruption campaign cannot be sustained when workers do not receive adequate salaries on time. Hungry worker is not only angry but vulnerable to graft. There is a link between economic growth and wage payment. A well paid motivated worker will definitely be productive worker.

“All Nigerians must condemn whoever denies workers their legitimate earnings based on any excuse.  One of the shameless Governors is Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who barefaced recently declared that ‘Ondo State Is Broke, I Can’t Pay Workers.

“Governor Mimiko and his like debtor-Colleagues should rather announce their resignations and offered apologies for running aground their states and bankrupt such that they cannot pay salaries of their poor workers. Regrettably the Ondo governor dared to shout down the protesting workers and even threatened them with mass sack if they persist in their legitimate struggle and did not return to work.

“One frequently advertised claim of the shameless Governors about non-payment is the falling oil revenue and declining federal allocations. Again as President Buhari asked; when the oil revenue was in surplus what did these states do with the surplus?”

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