Aregbesola parleys with labour leaders in Osun

Gov. Aregbesola

Gov. Aregbesola

THE National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Ayuba Waba and labour leaders in Osun State had on Monday held a meeting with the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on payment of salaries to the workers with the bailout fund released by the Federal Government.

Reporters were not allowed to cover the proceedings of the meeting which was held behind closed.

It was, however, gathered that the meeting was successful as the governor was said to have mandated labour leaders to compute all the outstanding salaries the government was owing the workers and to furnish him with the total amount in due course.

The government has also assured the people that the N34.988 billion bailout funds received from the Federal Government would be used for the purpose for which it was procured.

In a statement by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Semiu Okanlawon, the government said the first batch of payment this week would be effected through the allocations received for the month of July, pending the conclusion of the verification exercise which the labour called for in order to determine the actual work force of the state.

The statement added that the clarification became necessary given the allegation by political opponents and the belief in some quarters that the funds would be diverted to other purposes.

“We are using the opportunity to assure the entire workers in the state that all arrears of salary and pensions will be paid from the bailout funds as the reason for which it was received. And this is why the government has ensured that the verification exercise is concluded and the actual figure of workers is determined for the purpose of
payment,” the bureau stated.

“Therefore, we must agree that civil service reforms are absolutely critical at this stage in the life of our dear state. There is a need for the engagement of all critical segments of leadership of government and labour for the necessary actions that will make the service effective, efficient and economical.

“If our state, and by all means, the entire South-West region will become financially and materially viable, a wholesome review of what works and what does not must be carried out and implemented with considerable alacrity and efficiency,” it noted.

But there were pockets of protests staged yesterday in Osogbo by various groups to remind the state government of the plight of workers and pensioners due to non-payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities.

Worried by the ugly situation, the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in Osun following the refusal of the state to pay their 10 months pension and gratuities.

They also warned all contractors handling road projects in the state, to leave the state saying “failure to heed these warning can spell
doom for them.

The Osun state Chairman of the Union, Comrade Tunde Ogunniyi, at a press conference held at the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the condition of workers and pensioners had reached a critical point

He said: “Considering the spate of death of pensioners and government workers in the state as a result of insensitivity of the state government to their welfare and the tension it has generated in the state, it is clear that the governance of the state is beyond the
control of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and since threat to peace and security is a major constitutional reason for the declaration of the
state of emergency, we hereby call on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to take over the affairs of the state by declaring
State of Emergency in Osun State.”

He added: “The government is owing pensioners backlog of unpaid pension of between 10-15 months and gratuities have not been paid since December 31, 2012 till September 15, 2015.

“These actions of Osun State government led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola amount to deliberate display of callousness, greediness, wickedness,
flagrant disobedience to the rule of law, mal-administration and fraud.”

Also, students of Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile-Ife also staged peaceful protest in Osogbo yesterday appealing to the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola to pay the arrears of salary of Osun workers so that guardians and parents would be able to pay school fees of their wards and children.

The President of OAU Students’ Union, Omotayo Akande who led the protest told The Guardian that as their examination commenced on Monday the students whose parents are civil servants in Osun were not allowed to write the examination because they have not paid school
fees. He explained that majority of OAU students are indigenes of Osun State and that the Students’ Union had spent N1.6 million to pay for school fees of 85 students. He added that the union could not go beyond its limit whereas majority of Osun indigenes in the university are yet to school fees.

The workers yesterday attacked two journalists, Abass Okandeji of Muri International Television (MiTV) and Folorunso Adeniyi of ONTV in Osogbo by beating them as they were mistaken for reporters of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, (OSBC).

The journalists were later rushed to the clinic in the government secretariat where they were admitted at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Okandeji sustained injuries in his chest as a result of several blows dealt on him by the mob while Adeniyi had a deep cut in his left hand. Their equipment were also destroyed by the workers.

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