By Oyibo Salihu
Organised Labour in Kogi state has sent another Save Our Soul message to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the state a disaster zone over the non-payment of salaries by the state government which had resulted in “many deaths, with a senior staff committing.”
In a statement issued by the secretaries of the state chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Olakunle Faniyi, Trade Union Congress (TUC), James Kolawole and their Joint Public Service Negotiating Council counterpart, Comrade Isa Abubakar, in Lokoja yesterday, their leaders said their earlier call on the federal government to “treat Kogi workers as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and send relief materials to them” was borne out of the “deplorable situation of the workers as a result of non-payment of their salaries between a period of three to 22 months.”
Labour noted that it was sad and unfortunate the suicide committed by Mr. Edward Soje, a Director with the Kogi state Teaching Service Commission, stressing that it “is a fresh reference of the untold hardship the workers of the state are going through in the hands of Yahaya Bello-led administration.”
The statement read in part: “It is unfortunate and ridiculous that the government which has caused monumental pains to the civil servants and their relations could commit the very scarce resources of the state in buying over 143 pages (so far) of the Leadership newspaper of October 19 and 20, 2017 editions to mislead the reading public that his government is not owing salaries of civil servants.
“Aside from the fact that the majority of our workers have salary arrears of between 3 to 22 months, the state government under Yahaya Bello has further endangered the lives of the people through the bogus money it has published against people’s names as salaries and wages paid to them.
“The security implication of this very wrong step of Governor Yahaya Bello is that criminals could get hold of this document and begin to trace the very workers whose names government has published for harm.”
Continuing, it read: “Kogi workers are walking the streets of Lokoja as beggars because their salaries and allowances have not been paid for a period of three to 22 months by the government of Yahaya Bello.”
Labour also urged the governor to show a high level of transparency by “publishing on the pages of newspapers the names of cleared, but not paid workers and amount due to them on monthly from October 2016 to July 2017; the names of pensioners paid on monthly from October 2015 to July, and the names of pensioners not paid, but cleared on monthly basis from October 2016 to July 2017.”