Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has approved for the immediate commencement of the payment of ten thousand naira and five thousand to civil servants and pensioners in the state respectively, as palliative, aimed at cushioning the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
The directive also include paying the same amount for workers and pensioners at the local government level.
Engineer Sule gave the directive after meeting with labour leaders, at the Government House, on Monday.
The Governor directed the state Accountant General, Head of Civil Service, Commissioner, Ministry for Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs, Director General, Nasarawa State Pension Bureau, as well as the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), to liaise together with a view to commencing the payment of the palliative immediately.
The meeting was convened at the instance of the Governor to harmonize views on the worker’s palliative following feelers that the unions may have different views on what they want for the pallatiative.
Engineer Sule took time to explain in detail the idea behind the pallatiative, especially the N5bn given to each state by the Federal Government.
“The arrangement for the palliative is very simple. The Federal Government will give us N4bn in cash, as well as N1bn in cash in order to cushion the hardship created by the removal of fuel subsidy.
“The one billion is going to be in form of a loan which the state is going to pay back. The N4bn is going to be divided into two, N2.08bn would be borne by the Federal Government, N1.02bn is by the state. It’s a grant and loan combined together. Every state has taken N2bn so far,” he stated.
The Governor explained that even at that, there are conditions tied to the money given by the Federal Government on how the money is to be expended.
A lot of people don’t understand much about that N4bn. The way it was calculated was that we are going to buy one hundred thousand bags of 50kg rice at N40, 000 per bag, and share in the state. That is the understanding of Mr. President. Part of it is loan, part of it is grant. But you are going to buy 100, 000 bags of rice.
“This one that we are talking about that we are giving as palliative, including the N10000 and N5000, is not out of this N2bn. I think it’s good that we have that clear understanding. The local government are giving out of their improved allocation, out of the improved revenue that we are getting as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy,” he said.
On the plea by the labour leaders to use the money meant to be giving to workers as palliative to implement consequential increment for workers on level 7 and above, as well as promotions, Engineer Sule said his administration would rather do something that would give every citizen of the state a sense of belonging. He further urged the labour unions to be realistic in their demands, especially given the prevailing economic realities.
“For palliative, you try to do something that would give everyone a sense of belonging. If you focus only on the civil servant, it would remain a civil servant affairs. Some of the states have offered a minimum of N10, 000 to their workers. In our state we said let’s do a little more than that. We are also offering N5, 000 to pensioners because they are also citizens of the state.
“Why are we doing this? Because N5bn is given uniformly to the states irrespective of the population. We are one of the smallest states. If a state with 15m people would be giving that amount to cushion the effects, our state should be able to do something extra. That is the wisdom behind us doing something probably some of the bigger states may not do ” the Governor said. Engineer Sule however assured the labour leaders that the issues of consequential increment and promotion would be addressed by his administration. “At the end of the six months period, hopefully our income would remain the same or even better. From the seventh month, I have absolutely no problem. Instead of using the resources for something else, we would use some percentage to address the consequential increment,” he added.
Responding, both Comrades Ayuba Ismaila Oko and Mohammed Doma, state chairmen of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), respectively agreed with Engineer Sule regarding the payment of ten thousand naira and five thousand naira to workers and pensioners.
The labour leaders, including the representative of pensioners in the state, thanked the Governor for his magnanimity, while also pledging to differ their earlier claims regarding the payment of consequential increment and implementation of promotion to a later date as agreed by the Governor.