Osun is one of the states owing workers’ salaries for several months. Like in other affected states across the country, the situation has foisted untold hardship on the workers and their families. Some of them have been sending SOS to their friends and relations. Feeding has become difficult and their children sent out of schools over inability to pay fees.
It was therefore a great relief for all when the federal government bail-out came the way of the affected states. However, reports emanating from Osun are totally at variance with the expectations of many, particularly the workers.
Much to the chagrin of many, the Osun State Government (OSG) has instructed civil servants to produce their First School Leaving Certificate as a pre-condition for payment of their salary arrears. To this effect, screening forms were issued to some of the workers last week. The forms, according to reports, bear a specific instruction to attach the primary school certificates.
The development was sequel to the state government’s decision to conduct a fresh screening exercise to determine the actual workforce of the state. Much as it is the absolute responsibility of the state government to carry out routine staff audits, a question that however pleads for an answer is: why should such exercises be tied to the payment of salaries owed workers?
Why on earth should workers be required to produce their primary school certificates before they can receive salaries for the months they had already worked for? This is seen as a clever way the OSG is trying to side-step its obligation to its workers knowing full well that a large number of the civil servants would be unable to locate their primary school certificates due to them being lost for one reason or the other.
The Osun State Government must be called to order. Every worker deserves his or her wage and on time. It is bad enough that workers are owed for month on end It is patently unwholesome, morally reprehensible and unacceptable for tany government to make impossible demands from workers it is indebted to.
We urge Governors in states owing workers salariesto desist from playing cheap politics with the wellbeing of the people that gave them their mandate. They are in office by virtue of their votes for him, and the public funds they preside over belong to them.
There is no law in Nigeria that requires workers to tender their primary school certificates before they are paid backlog of salary arrears. Besides, President Buhari made it clear that the bail-out funds must be primarily devoted to offsetting salary arrears of workers, and we hold all state governors accountable for that.