Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the state Government got only N1.6 billion from the Federation Account this month and has a shortfall of N1.4 billion to meet salaries and overheads, but that it won’t stop the Government from meeting its wage obligation before the end of the month.
Oshiomhole who restated his commitment to the prompt payment of workers’ salaries during a visit of the newly elected leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said, “the labour movement remains to me my primary, original constituency. Politics is my secondary constituency, and I am never ashamed to say it that the style that I adopt and the strategy that I evoke are the result of my trade union training and all that the union equipped me with. So, our movement gives us all that we need to prepare for leadership. So, I congratulate you on your election. I also want to congratulate your immediate predecessor, for the leadership he provided for the TUC.
“Things are tough. This month, Edo State Government received from the Federation Account N1.6 billion. I will need about N3 billion to pay wages and overheads and other basic things that are not negotiable, which means we have a deficit of about N1.4 billion. But we will pay the workers before the 30th, before May Day, they must get their money. It is a lot easier for the government to explain poor finances. It is far more complex to explain how in the face of the crisis in the country, how a worker is able to go to work, stay at work, put in eight hours work, find his way back home, provide for his wife and then hug the children as a father that cares with a salary of twenty thousand.
“So, the worker is the greatest economist, whether in prosperity or in recession, the wages are taxed while every other price is dynamic. As a Christian, I think it is a temptation. So, when it dropped to this level, I think somebody must be saying, let’s see how he is going to cope. The God that made me a governor will enable me to meet all the obligations.
“Your request for May Day, we will provide. We don’t have much in our treasury but we have much in our will and determination. And it is that will that will enable us to do any of the things that are good in the eyes of God. So, we will do the May Day as if we were not in this kind of crisis.
“For the promotion, I have told the Head of Service. I want our promotion to be up to date, sign them, implement them, not notional, and translate them to naira and kobo so that I am not passing on any social burden to my successor. I want to be able to pay it so that nobody will say I did it on the eve of my departure.
“For us to get out of this recession, we must reflate the economy. I have argued and nobody has contradicted me that what we spend on workers is the only money that re-circulates within the Nigerian economy. What the ruling class spends is the only money that often flies out of the country. So, if we are going to keep the economy going, we need to spend more money on the productive force so that the money can circulate. I understand that paying workers is not an act of goodwill; it makes economic sense. It is a smart thing to do to pay a living wage and a decent wage. It is healthy for the economy. So, we will sustain the promotion, fast track the process and I will endorse and we will start to pay.
Speaking earlier, the newly elected chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Marshall Ohue said, “Specifically on the 11th of February this year, a new leadership emerged in the Trade Union Congress of the Edo State Council. I am not surprised at your antecedent over the past seven years. You have done so much in terms of infrastructure. It goes to show your zeal and your passion for developing Edo State and making Edo State a workable state. I am not surprised because I know what you are capable of doing. You did it when you were the NLC President. I knew you would do better as a governor and that you have certainly shown.”
The TUC chairman continued, “Your Excellency, I went through Egor this month and I discovered that the whole mammy water has disappeared. Now I remember as we used to say, power pass power. The ultra-modern hospital is one of the best in Africa. You have written your name in gold. You broke records and you create new ones. Sir, we say kudos and bravo to a man of honour.
“I also want to thank you in the area of payment of salaries even in the midst of dwindling economy of the nation, when many states find it difficult to pay their workforce.
“Thank you for the cooperation over the years. As my leader here has said, if they were good, we will do better. If they are best, we will be excellent. Under my watchful eyes as the TUC chairman of Edo State, I am ready to work with you to ensure that there is industrial peace in Edo State, between Edo State workers and Edo State Government, especially when you are one of us.”