By Kennedy Ikantu Peretei.
December is already here, and fragrance of Christmas is in the air. Those who have the means have begun preparations in earnest, so as not to be caught in the web of Christmas fever and its attendant hike in the price essential commodities and other items.
But for the workers of Ondo State, their Christmas celebration is hanging dangerously in the hope that the Akeredolu led All Progressives Congress (APC) government will be “magnanimous” enough to pay salaries, at least one full month.
For more than one year now, workers in Ondo State receive percentage salaries. It could be as ridiculous as 30% of their monthly salary. At the last count, only June 2021 salaries have been paid in full. That means, six months salaries are still outstanding. This is in spite of the N18.2 Billion received in tranches as bail out from the Federal Government.
The Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in separate bulletins sighted online, pleaded passionately with the State government to pay a minimum of two months salary on or before 18th December, 2021, to enable the workers celebrate Christmas. It added that their members should endure the harsh economic realities of the time.
That the leadership of organised labour unions have lost steam and become ineffective in demanding for the rights of workers is understandable. What cannot be understood is their inelastic capacity to endure suffering in this manner.
The leadership of these Unions were carefully installed by Dare Aragbaiye, when he reigned as Head Of Service, of Ondo State public service. Even at the expiration of his tenure as a civil servant, Akeredolu, his kinsman from Owo, illegally extended his tenure as HoS. What qualified Aragbaiye to be appointed as Special Adviser on Union Matters and Special Duties was his role to midwife the union elections that practically incapacitated the Trade Unions in the state.
The “all powerful” Special Adviser, assumed and appropriated the duties of Permanent Secretary Governor’s Office, from his days as HoS. A duty and office he has refused to relinquish till today even as Special Adviser.
The sorrows and pains of workers in Ondo State are the worst in the South West. Neighbouring States with less revenue are doing projects and paying staff salaries. Workers in Ondo State have become butt of jokes, unable to meet the challenges of everyday existence. Some who used their salaries as collateral to collect loans from banks and cooperative societies are unable to service these loans. It has never been this bad in the state. For a ‘Civil Servants State’, the APC Government has abridged every opening for the people to live a meaningful life. Artisans and market women all groan under the cluelessness of the incumbent administration.
As Christmas beckons, we can only plead with Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN to wear a human face in his handling of the affairs of the state and avoid many people falling into depression as a result of government policies under his watch.
This series will continue shortly.