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Osun workers jubilant as Aregbesola clears salary arrears

By News Desk,

Osun workers have been celebrating as Governor Rauf Aregbesola paid the full August salary and also cleared some of the arrears owed them.

Pensioners were also paid by the government.

Reports said the jubilant workers and pensioners thronged banks and Automated ‎Teller Machines (ATM) to draw part of the money.

‎The Osun Commissioner for Finance, Bola Oyebamiji, said the workers were paid from the N19.8 billion set aside by government.

Workers were paid September, October, November and December 2015 salary arrears, 2016 leave bonus and full August 2018 salaries.

Banks and commercial centres around Ogo-Oluwa, Igbonna, Orisumbare amongst others witnessed massive patronage as many pensioners and workers were seen withdrawing money after the state government had made good its promise.

Market women and artisans were full of praises to the ‎Aregbesola led administration for putting smiles on the faces of workers and pensioners by paying their entitlements.

A senior civil servant, Madam Modupe Faturoti said Aregbesola has shown that he is well interested in the welfare of workers in the state by paying workers entitlement.

She held that workers and pensioners are so happy regardless of what others are saying concerning the timing of the payment, stating that it’s better late than never.

“As far as I am concerned, everybody is happy that salaries have been paid, some say it is because of election. But election or no election, what I am bothered about is that my money has been paid.

“What we all should be concerned about is that the issue of half salary had been put to rest, Aregbesola has shown his sincerity because the bailout money he received was 16billion and he is paying 19.8 billion to us”.

Mr. Femi Ademola, a level 09 officer in the state civil service expressed happiness over payment of the workers’ salaries.

Ademola said that the payment of arrears as well as pensions for the retired civil servants is a welcome development, though some of them are not beneficiaries.

“What is happening is a welcome development.The joyous mood has translated into colleagues painting the market red with the collection of part of their arrears”, he emphasised.

The finance commissioner, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, stated that the latest Paris Club refund released to the state by Federal Government was N16.6 billion.

He added that governor Aregbesola approved the disbursement of. N19.8 billion to clear four months of salary arrears, pension arrears and leave bonus with adequate provision for full salaries going-forward.

Similar euphoria is being expressed in the markets across the state as traders expressed surprise over the rate in which they sell their wares.

A market woman, Alhaja Wosila Adeagbo, a rice seller at the Oluode Market in Osogbo noted that there has been pressure on her and other traders as many customers came to buy food items.

Another trader, Alhaja Sikiratu Ibrahim, said workers who had owed her had started coming to pay their debts, thanking Aregbesola for the prompt payment.

Osun’s Road to salary hiccups

Commissioner for Finance, Mr Bola Oyebamiji, on Thursday explained how the state ran into hitches over prompt payment of salaries and also how it had struggled to meet workers’ expectations in the past:

The Commissioner said the latest payment was not the first time the Aregbesola administration will commit such lump sums received from the Federal Government to pay salaries and pensions of workers.

He stated that in November 2016, Government received N11.4 billion Paris Club Refunds and the following month disbursed N13.6 billion ‎to pay active and passive workers as salaries, pensions, leave bonuses and other emoluments, with N8.5 billion covering salaries of September to December 2016.

Similarly, he noted that N924 million was paid in the same 2016 to cover the leave bonus of September to December, adding that from this same Paris Club Refund, N2.5 billion was paid to cover pensions from September to December of the same year.

“‎Again, in July 2017, the government received N6.3 billion as the second tranche of Paris Club refund and paid N6 billion as salaries, pensions and leave bonuses. The breakdown was as follows: N3.76 billion as workers salaries, N504 million as leave bonuses, N791 million as pension and N935 million as salaries in the Local Governments.

“Since the commencement of the Aregbesola administration in November 2010, salaries, pensions and workers emoluments had taken not less than 80 per cent of the total revenue of the state. Indeed, a sizeable portion of the state’s debt was incurred on salaries.
“When the administration came, monthly workers salaries was N1.4 billion while pensions was N200 million. However, with the increase of minimum wage from N9,000 to N19,000 and hiking of monthly pensions to N500 million, monthly salaries and pensions rose to N3.6 billion.
“Though there was a steady increase in revenue till the late 2013, however, by 2014, oil price commenced a steady decline, dropping to as low as $22 in 2015 from the height of more than $100 in 2013”.

According to the Commissioner, the decline in oil revenue affected revenue accruing to the state from the Federation Account which in turn affected workers across the states of the federation.

He noted further that the option available to the government was to rightsize the workforce of the state, but consultation with llabour leaders and sstakeholders under the leadership of veteran labour Leader, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, came up with an ingenuous arrangement of modulated salary whereby workers on grade level 1-7 were paid full salaries, levels 8-12 were put on 75 percent while level 12 and above received 50 percent of their salaries.
Oyebamiji added that the modulated salary sustained the state till July this year when rise in oil price led to an increase in revenue to the state and the state promptly responded by resuming payment of full salaries for the month of July.

“For the second month, we have now paid full salaries to all our workers. It is my hope and prayers that this will be sustained, and we will never have cause to modulate workers salaries in Osun again. ‎

“Therefore, on behalf of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, I will like to commend and thank all the workers in Osun for their sacrifice, resilience and unflinching support to the government and dedication to duty, even in the midst of daunting challenges. I have no doubt that workers, in their demonstrable good nature and Omoluabi spirit, will reciprocate this good gesture from the government.” Oyebamiji said.

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