In Osun State, some pensioners have not been paid for eight months, just as workers, who are now on strike have been owed salaries for seven months. But Governor Rauf Aregbesola recently said the situation was over him, showing that without an external intervention, the workers face many more months without pay.
Aregbesola has been criticized as being an irresponsible governor, but maybe his usual way of blaming everyone but himself over his state’s inability to pay salaries gave him away. This is because he is not the only governor owing workers. Eighteen out of the thirty-six states of the federation are technically bankrupt. In many cases, the states have signed irrevocable payment orders with various banks, ensuring that monies owed are deducted at source. With little internally generated revenue to shore up the huge deficit caused by their excessive borrowing, these states have found it impossible to pay their workers.
The states which owing workers, according to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara. However, none of the governors of these states are often in the media as much as Aregbesola, giving excuses.
“But no matter how sad (I don’t want to use the word ‘depressed), no matter how unhappy I am, the truth is that I will not fail to say that it is a situation absolutely beyond my control,” Aregbesola said last week when he fielded questions from State House correspondents, shortly after one of his numerous visits to Abuja.
“I led an administration in receipt of regular allocation in which I do my budget. Unfortunately, this allocation started falling in rapid form that totally disorganised my budget and any other arrangement.”
The Osun State governor was quick to praise himself after saying the state’s situation was beyond his control. “For those who want to be objective, Osun of November 2010 when I assumed office and Osun of today are not the same. People must give credit to the changes that we have brought about in Osun. The changes were not miracles, they were changes occasioned by application of resources.
“Were it to be Osun alone, probably I would not have an excuse. I pray it does not continue. I am not sure if there will be any state that will actually escape from the biting effect of the absolute sharp drop which I call economic disaster that we are grappling with.”
Some Nigerians have called for Aregbesola’s resignation following his statement, while others have called for his impeachment.