Abia State and the New Minimum Wage Quagmire – John Okiyi Kalu

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is proposing N30,000 as new minimum wage for workers while the federal Govt is offering N24,000 and state governors (NGF) want to pay N20,000. Because of this, labour is set to go on strike if their demand is not met.

Permit me to share this with you.

According to the Commissioner for Finance in Abia State, Mr Obinna Oriaku, the state currently pays N23,000 as minimum wage to workers in the state.

I can personally confirm that all the workers in Abia State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that make up more than 70% of the state government workers, have received September 2018 salaries.

If you know any genuine worker currently working with the MDAs in the state civil service please put a call across and ask the person to verify my assertion.

Where we have challenges with salary payment is with workers in some state parastatals. While parastatals like Abia State University, BCA, Ambassador Newspapers, primary school teachers etc are up to date with salary payment, others like Abia State Polytechnic, Abia State College of Education, Arochukwu, Secondary School Management Board and a few others have challenges with workers’ salary.

It is important to note that the state government is not directly responsible for the payment of wages of workers in state parastatals. The management of those parastatals are by law empowered to make revenue and use same to pay wages and run their operations without remitting any portion to the state government’s account.

The state government only subvents parastatals an agreed monthly amount to support their operations. Not necessarily meant for payment of workers.

For instance, Abia State Polytechnic and Abia State University collect school fees from students and engage in other income yielding ventures. They don’t remit any portion of their revenue to the state government. While Abia State University pays her workers as and when due, Abia State Polytechnic is owing workers some months of wages, largely due to low revenue yield from a declining student population and high wage bill structure.

It is interesting to note that Abia State currently pays the highest wages in the south east region and has never reduced workers payment by any percentage. The state, under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu, resisted the temptation to retrench workers even when the country was in economic recession with some other states either retrenching workers or paying them 30%, 50% or 70% of their usual wages.

Abia State is currently paying N23,000 as minimum wage. Feel free to compare and contrast with what the federal government and other states are currently offering. Also compare what a level 8 worker in Abia State takes home with that of equivalent worker from other SE states.

During the last May Day celebration a labor leader had a chat with me at the parade ground and I asked him if he will agree to receive what his mates in other south east states take home and he begged me never to suggest or mention that elsewhere. Of course I won’t because I am happy that our workers are better paid…they are the best in the world.

Governor Ikpeazu has committed to helping parastatals with salary backlog to clear them, as much as possible, on or before year end. A committee is in place already and at work to realize that objective.

All the above stated facts are verifiable and I invite readers to verify and ask me questions. The administration of Governor Ikpeazu has not solved all the challenges in Abia State but no fair minded person can say he has not done a lot of good things and still working to do much more from now to May 29th, 2023.

Governor Ikpeazu has completed 67 road projects in 3 years and also has 94 others ongoing. He has constructed 304 new classroom blocks, built 4 new model schools that are currently being equipped, distributed 2 million high yielding tenera palm seedlings, delivered Medical equipment and supplies worth more than N1bn to hospitals, constructed 3 new general hospitals and positively touched all aspects of life in Abia State, including Improvement in security, implemented a school feeding program that led to more than 400% growth in public school enrollment and much more.

Those opposing Governor Ikpeazu can lie and spin as much as they like but fact speaks for itself.

They have fought Governor Okezie Ikpeazu with everything they have from 2015 to date; money, connections, lies, propaganda, intrigues, fetish sacrifices etc, yet, he won and has remained in office till date, doing good even to them and Ndi Abia in general.

The GRACE Governor Ikpeazu is carrying will surely DISGRACE them again in 2019.

JOK

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