Implications Of Unpaid Salaries Of Ondo Workers – Opinion - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Implications Of Unpaid Salaries Of Ondo Workers – Opinion

Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu

By Biodun Omoonda

AKURE - Suffering and smiling have become the lot of most civil servants in Ondo State. Those who may be truly smiling are Directors of Parastatals and Principal Officers of Institutions who have several allowances running into hundreds of thousands of naira to claim monthly from their organisations’ coffers, mindless of the workers’ plight and migraine.

Most civil servants in the once blossoming Sunshine State, in recent times, due to several months of unpaid and irregular salaries, can no longer afford three square daily meals for their children, not to talk of feeding themselves appropriately. Hence, most workers there are no longer concerned about balanced diet. All that is important to many of them is ensuring their children or families get something to swallow down their stomachs, to keep their back straight and still be moving.

The feeding pattern of many civil servants and families in Ondo State of today; is one-zero-one, zero-one-zero, one-zero-zero or zero-zero-one.

This Arakunrin’s inflicted hardship on Ondo workers had turned many workers and pensioners in the State to corporate beggars and carefree “finebaras”.  This has also led to increased cases of prostitution, especially among secondary school girls of the age ranges of ten to sixteen, because their parents can no longer afford to feed them well, nor have the ability to ably cater for all other needs of these kids as adolescents.

Day by day, younger boys and girls in the State are drifting to waywardness, disobedience and pilfering. There are increase cases of out-of-school children, theft, burglars, stealing, nefarious activities and other social crimes among the teens and youths in the State.

The lingering salary crises in the oil-rich State, had led to series of industrial actions by different workers’ groups in the State, at various times. The judiciary were the first to go on strike since this anomaly began. It’s horrible. For that is Mr. Governor’s constituency, being a lawyer, a barrister, a SAN and one time NBA President.

The health workers, doctors, nurses, etc had equally gone on strike as a result of months of unpaid salaries and arrears. Worst still was that for the first time in the history of Ondo State, nurses, consultants and resident doctors are joining the strike. These three categories of health workers have never for once joined any strike in the State. This is indeed a lifetime stain and dent on Governor Akeredolu’s personality. Their few days of joining the strike resulted into casualties in many of the State’s clinics and hospitals.

As recently stated by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ondo State Chapter, over 105 medical doctors have resigned from the State Health Sector in the last few months as a result of irregular and percentage payment of salaries by the State Government. The doctors claimed that they are just receiving their February salary in June.  It is even laughable and worrying to note that only three house doctors are left in the service of the Ondo State Government across the three senatorial districts in the State.

Civil servants and Universities’ Unions among others have equally gone on strike at one time or another on this salary matters since December, 2020.  Very worrisome was when our own undiplomatic and unadministrative Arakunrin was reported to have told hospital workers that they are free to go on strike, but that when they are going they should bring the hospital keys to him.

Arakunrin was equally informally reported to have said that he heavily invested in the 2020 gubernatorial elections that brought him back to Alagbaka for his second term in office. So, he had to recoup his money back (vote buying). It was even alleged that he once told his Party Leaders in the State that do they want him to trade at loss!

The strike or industrial action is not what many civil servants in the State savoured or adored, but to them, that is the only sensible song and lyrics the government understood.

This regime of unpaid salaries in Ondo State, had no doubt , led to death of some senior citizens (pensioners), and had similarly worsened health situations of numerous civil servants who have some health issues they are battling. While it has resulted in medical casualties by some civil servants who can no longer afford their monthly or periodical prescribed drugs.

Without doubt, in no distant future, many civil servants in Ondo State and many of their dependents will begin to battle with chronic and various kinds of ulcers as a result of many months, if not years of endured hungers. There will also be increased cases of kwashiorkor among the children and the elderly, consequent upon prolonged mal-nutrition. There are bound to be rising cases of eye impairment due to over consumption of cassava flakes (garri) by the underage and adults. 

The issue of depression and high B.P. are now appalling, as attendant effect of incessant salary payment to worker in the State. The case of percentage salary payment which Akeredolu’s Government introduced lately is a story for another day. But Arakunrin is collecting his own salary, security votes of over 600 million naira and other emoluments in full every month.

Despite the workers’ groaning and agonies, Mr. Governor, his wife and children have continued to live affluently and prodigally well. The Governor had just returned from holiday trip abroad lately, mindless of the workers predicament.  As if that is not painful and saddening enough, just two weeks ago, precisely on 5th June, 2021, our insensitive and inhumane Arakunrin laid foundation for two billion naira new Governor’s lodge, while workers’ salaries are piling.

Only Heaven knows when this unfortunate regime of unpaid and irregular salary would end in our dear Sunshine State. For there have been speculations that Mr. Governor had stated that he would be repaying his several billion loans (I guess election loan) for the next two years. Surely, at the expense of civil servants monthly take home. 

Perhaps, the remaining two years will be for him to mop up whatever he can from the State Government’s coffer; as his parting shot and take away!

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