Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose says he cannot stop workers in the Ekiti state civil service who intend to go on strike over unpaid salaries. Fayose said this in an interview session with pressmen yesterday May 25th

“I want to make some clarification particularly on issues that affects the welfare of our workers. I want to say very expressly that workers are the engine room of government and they deserve all the encouragement but currently we are in crisis financially, the average wage bill in terms of payment of workers is between 2.5 to 2.6billion which includes parastatals, university, college of education and all that.

And since I became governor I have always put this before the leadership of labour, each time they give us a figure from Abuja, I give the paper to them for them to share and bring it for signature. Obviously at some point we all realized that there was nothing to share or probably for what we earn when you are to pay 2.5 or 2.6 billion as wage bill and you now get 1billion, you get 800million, you get 1.2billion, there is nothing to share. So rotating an alternating payment in terms of paying the university, the college of education, higher institution and so on, we pay them this month and pay the major work force next month. That has been the practice and we work with a technical committee of labour and government, we meet monthly to disburse. I want to tell u very expressly that it has not been easy.

As it is, last month I got about 850million, the month before which was the month of March I got 1.1billion, February I got about 1.2billion and in December I got about 1.3billion, it has not been easy and I want to say very expressly that I am owing four months salary and with the month of May it will be five months. This is not about Ekiti alone, all states reasonably are affected by this development irrespective of which governor, which party controls that state. So as it is, I am doing my best within the ambits of availability. You will recall that I took over a debt profile of commercial loan of over 31billion where deductions are made from source and apart from the commercial loan we have the bond by the last administration as a result, it is difficult for me to sustain the salaries.

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Ekiti has the least in Nigeria in terms of IGR(internally generated revenue) and most of the times if you don’t pay, if you pay the basic it means you don’t expect tax next month, that has been the style, that has been the situation. Right now I am helpless and that is the fact. Yesterday, the 25th of this month, the commissioner for finance called me that we got 751million which is one third or one quarter of the wage bill. So I need to set this record straight, I have been guided and being careful and that is why most of the time when workers doesn’t come to work, I don’t have the morals to go and stop them from coming late or not coming to work because when you don’t pay wages you are handicapped to enforce discipline in the people. As it is, I am doing my best on the needful but it is difficult for me to sell myself or my wife or sell my property, it is a trying time for our state and for Nigeria, I can only deploy what I get from Abuja within available resources, we are trying our best to improve on the internally generated revenue.

You will discover that it is very difficult to squeeze water from a dry tissue paper. You can’t get money when people don’t get wages, when the money doesn’t circulate, when business are not running, taking IGR from them will be a bit difficult. As it is, this is the position, I just want the public, the workers to understand that it’s in my priority to make them very comfortable, apart from wages, it is the responsibility of government to provide electricity,it is the responsibility of government to provide security, to provide for the less privileged, water among others.

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This has been very difficult, even in government house most of the times we don’t have diesel to power generators, so we have to move to the office during office hours and when we move home, we use generator for the government house. It’s been very tough and that’s the position but I can’t stop workers from going on strike, if you want to go on strike I can’t stop you, I can only give explanation which I have given and the best I could do is what I can do. So I sympathise with them but I am helpless, if you want to go on strike, we will be waiting when they will come back.

On his message for the Labour leaders who were threatening to strike:
It is not about threatening, what you have is what you can give, we do this meeting together Technical Committee every month, they have facts more than myself but I don’t want to join issues, I appreciate their patience, I appreciate their situation, the same situation they are in is the same situation I am in. So I want to say very clearly, even if you hate the labor force, will you hate the political leaders and political class, No!
He appealed to the workers to see reason with the state government on why salaries are not being paid
The plea is to all see reasons with the present situation, it is a situation beyond anybody and everybody. If you go to Osun State, go to Ogun, go to Oyo, most states don’t even have commissioners, they don’t have means, so I won’t blame anybody, the financial situation I have said it long ago that this time shall come, this are very perilous times, difficult times, I share the pains of the common people in our society, it is not right time to be governor I must confess to you.
He also explained why is still being able to fund capital projects in the state

Some ask me, but you are doing some capital project like the fly over, and the new market, yes! I said it, I made it public a year ago that the federal government arranged a loan for each state for 10billion which must be attached to capital project in each state. I made it public in one of ‘The Governor Speaks’, and I have attached the flyover, the new market and one other project, I have attached that money to them.

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The money goes to them from source, so this is to clarify the misrepresentation regarding the projects, it is not as if we have the money in our coffers, the money is with the banks and they pay contractors directly. In fact, there are a lot of agreements signed by contractors that won the projects before they can get the money and it is being regulated by the bank with our approval.

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