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May Day: Kogi gov under pressure over unpaid salaries

The main labour union in Kogi on Wednesday said workers would determine the next governor of the state come November 2.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Onu Edoka, stated this at the 2019 Workers’ Day (May Day) celebration at Confluence Stadium, Lokoja.

According to him, “if only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would make their votes count, workers would decide the next governor of the state on Nov. 2.”

“Workers have the power to determine the next governor of the state and would prove it in the state governorship election slated for November 2, if only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would make our votes count.”

He, therefore, urged Governor Yahaya Bello to clear up the arrears of salaries owed workers in the state within the shortest possible time.

“If you pay our salaries, leave bonuses and implement our promotions, we assure you that we shall stand by you,” he said.

Edoka maintained his stance that the state government owed its workers between seven and 30 months salaries.

He urged the government to stop the ‘propaganda’ and face reality to ascertain the actual indebtedness of the state to its workers.

The labour leader, however, urged the government to clear up the arrears of salary and implement the new National Minimum Wage, adding that government should do everything possible to prevent workers from taking to the streets.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release N30.8 billion, being the balance of the bailout to Kogi. He said, ”outside of the N50.8 billion former Governor Idris Wada applied for, N20 billion was released to Governor Bello.”

Edoka said Bello paid four months arrears with the release and urged President Buhari to release the balance of N30.8 billion for government to settle more arrears.

In his response, Bello said that the state government would not pretend there were no unresolved issues, ”but utmost on his agenda presently was how to finally settle unpaid salaries to genuine workers”.

Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Folashade Ayoade-Arike, however, contended that the state government owed its workers only five months salaries.

He maintained that the last salary paid was that of November 2018.

He said that genuine workers had earlier been cleared, while those in other categories and possibly being owed were those cleared later by the screening committee, adding that it all depended on when they were cleared.

On the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage, the governor said that the government would meet with labour leaders and decide on modalities to adopt for its implementation.

He noted that payment of teachers’ salaries was now on first line charge.

“We are going to key into the new National Minimum Wage. The leadership of the Organised Labour in the state have been consistent in partnering with us, and we will always be straight forward with them,” he said.

(NAN)

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