By Olanrewaju Sofiyullah
While we might not have got to the peak we want for civil servants in Kwara State as per welfare, they sure know that their today is way better than yesterday of the Saraki dynasty where non-payment of salaries, ‘gerigedi’ salaries and the lack of working tools were a way of life.
Considering the dwindling federal allocation, the COVID-19 effect and a global economic meltdown, many a government at the subnational level in Nigeria has had to contend with meeting several obligations, particularly to the workforce. We have governments that are owing backlogs of salaries, even when they’ve not implemented the minimum wage of N30,000.
But not in Kwara State where the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has not only implemented the minimum wage of N30,000, but has also been consistent with payment of salaries to the workforce as and when due. The administration has also equipped the civil service with necessary materials to boost the morale of workers and bolster their confidence.
Once upon a time, officials of government had to type, print and make copies of sensitive documents with private computer centres because many of their offices barely had computers, photocopiers, printers and other working tools. The story has changed under the current administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
Laughably however, the Sarakis, notorious for disrespecting the civil servants by considering their payment doing them a favour, and as such choose any day that suits the powers-that-be to pay the workforce, that’s even when they pay at all, say they are coming back. To wreck more havoc in the civil service. Will Kwarans allow them? Certainly not!
We must join our hands together as people of Kwara, especially as civil servants to put a nail in the coffin of a dynasty that had no iota of regard for us, but considered satisfying the greed of a certain honcho as top priority, come 2023. They owed backlogs of salaries and entitlements at a time when oil sales was booming which meant a huge federal allocation, plus the various bailout funds, Paris funds drawn from the Federal Government.
Some may argue that salary payment is not an achievement. Maybe? Maybe not? But it is really a big deal, especially when we consider that in the past in Kwara State, there were months of unpaid salaries, and in fact, the previous government had to borrow to pay salaries to the civil servants. How is the present government doing it? That should be a concern.
When AbdulRazaq got power in 2019, several government departments and agencies; schools; parastatals were swimming in months of unpaid salaries. Mark you, salaries — not allowances. There were no promotions, and where they were, we had ceremonial promotions not cash-backed. It was a demotivated workforce.
Staff of Kwara State Water Corporation went on strike over unpaid salaries. There were also cases of unpaid salaries at The Herald, Radio Kwara, including some state owned colleges. Pensioners were long abandoned.
The new sheriff took over power, cleared all the mess, and has since then been consistent with salary payment across MDAs. That’s a big feat! It marks a breath of fresh air and shows Kwara has left where the maladministrators of yesterday left it. With this impactful change, it will be a tall order for civil servants in Kwara State to return to the old order which the PDP seeks to enthrone with another lickspittle Yaman Abdullahi whom his recent outbursts show he lacks the slightest idea of running a state.
Olanrewaju Sofiyullah writes from Ilorin, Kwara State.