NIGER, Nigeria – It appears the industrial action embarked upon by the Niger state Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, may linger longer than necessary as the State Government insisted that it cannot raise over N2 billion to pay salaries owed workers before the end of December, 2020.
The Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Alh. Ahmed Matane, in an interview with newsmen in Minna, said it is practically impossible to meet up with the demands of the unions this year.
Recall that the members of the unions proceeded on strike on the 1st of December, 2020, following the inability of the government to refund slashed 30 per cent from salaries of workers in the month of June, 2020.
He said, “It is unfortunate that we are having this strike going on its second day, the government is trying its best to see that this strike is not prolonged. We are still trying to see if we can raise anything that we will be able to pay up whatever outstanding balance that we have for civil servants.”
The SSG noted that presently, it would be difficult for the government at the moment to secure a loan to the tune N1.6b from any financial institution for November unpaid salaries as well as additional N500m of the 30 per cent owed workers for the month of June.
“Not many banks will be willing to give a loan now because it is coming to the end of the year. We are in December now, so banks are closing their books, it is very tough for any bank to give out N1.6 billion loan as a facility unless you will be able to pay it before they close their books which are in December”
“If I can encapsulate what had happened, in June, we are still owning civil servants 30 per cent, that 30 per cent is a big amount of money, it is not less than N500 million and then we have the November which has not been paid, so if we are going to pay up the 100 per cent, we will require up to 1.6 billion so if you add 1.6 billion-plus the N500 million, we have over N2 billion to pay,” he stated.
Matane stated that aside the challenges from the unions, “the health workers who came and make some demand, they are asking for COVID 19 hazard support which amounts to over N100 million.”
The state Government spokesman further revealed that, the health workers have also demanded for an increase in their hazard allowance.
“So it is a whole combination of things. As a government, we also need to reflect and look at the demands of the larger society; they need water, chemicals, among others. if the hospital is closed, we have a problem because the public would be unable to access the healthcare.,” he lamented.
On the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state, Matane further disclosed that, ” we thought we would grow our IGR before the end of the year but unfortunately, covid came and lasted for six to seven months and SMEs that are supposed to be paying the revenue are not in proportion, so we are revolving around 400 to 500 million monthly and for me, if you add everything, including IGR, we are still nowhere.”