Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti on Tuesday said that the workers in the state civil service were currently being owed N57 billion as arrears of unpaid salaries and emoluments.
The governor said this at a meeting he had with the civil servants as well as a cross-section of labour leaders at the Government House, Ado Ekiti.
He said that his administration was making frantic efforts to defray the backlogs which he said would be done in phases.
Fayemi claimed the trend was caused by irregular payments of salaries and pensions by the immediate past administration of Ayodele Fayose.
He said the arrears covered outstanding salaries, pensions, promotion arrears, leave bonuses and other emoluments from 2014 till October 2018 when he assumed office.
The governor also said he was not part of the people that were opposed to local government autonomy.
He said the local governments in the state were currently being given unfettered access to administer their own funds without interference from his government.
He said he would honour his earlier pledge to pay all the outstanding workers’ benefits.
He clarified that some would be given immediate attention, while some would be defrayed by installments.
He said, “It is sad to reel out such a humongous figure, because it can create panic for you and I.
“But let me say that we cannot pay everything in one fell swoop, but the 2019 promotion arrears will be given immediate attention while others will be defrayed by installment.
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“It becomes difficult to pay once because Ekiti gets a little above N5 billion monthly, with the state getting like N3 billion, while the local governments receive little above N2 billion monthly”, he said.
On the issue of local government autonomy, Fayemi said he was never opposed to the idea of giving financial independence to the third tier of government, being the closest to the grassroots.
“I am not opposed to it. Since I came back as governor, not even one naira of the local government money was being administered by me.
“I have allowed the councils to manage whatever comes to them,” he said.
Fayemi said that the state under him was considering alternative power supply option to shore up the one being supplied to the state from national grid.
He said he was planning the alternative because the current supply was grossly inadequate and crippling economic activities in the state.
He also said that he had earmarked some funds for the Ministry of Environment to undertake erosion and flood control projects in some towns.
Fayemi said that this was because of the recent flooding that ravaged Ado Ekiti and other towns, of which many civil servants were major victims.
He also said that he would discuss the acute shortage of manpower in the health sector with the Health Management Board (HMB) when it was raised by the labour leaders.
He said that he would ascertain the actual statistics and how to fill the missing gaps in the health sector.
The Chairman of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Kayode Fatomiluyi, had called the attention of the governor to the chronic shortage of manpower in the health sector.
Fatomiluyi said, “Over 1,000 nurses were at HMB in 2014 during your first term, Your Excellency Sir.
“But today, we have less than 500 to manage 22 health facilities across the state.
“The Governor must do something about this,” he said.
Some of the other labour union leaders in the state that attended the meeting include: Kolapo Olatunde of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Sola Adigun of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
They also pleaded that issues that had to do with the benefits of workers must be given utmost priority.
They urged the governor to use his connection as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to fast track the implementation of the new minimum wage for workers.