Niger gov to cut workers’ pay

Niger gov to cut workers’ pay
June 01 20:41 2016

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has announced plans to review the salaries of workers downwards in view of the present economic challenges.

Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, Bello said his administration was engaging the leadership of organised labour to make workers understand its position.

The governor also disclosed that he had to cut down the weekly expenditure of the Government House from N150m he inherited from the immediate past administration in the state to about N25m, among numerous other sacrifices, he said, he was willing to make.

He however dismissed reports that his administration had already resolved to pay workers in the state half salaries henceforth.

Bello lamented a situation whereby the government had to borrow on monthly basis to augment it’s  monthly allocation from the federation account, disclosing that the state was already indebted to the tune of three billion naira for that purpose.

He said: “No no no! We have not resolved to pay half salaries, but what we are saying is that from January this year we have been borrowing from bank to augment whatever we have been getting from FAAC.

“As at this month we are owing almost N3 billion‎, if we continue like this by December we will be owing N10 billion.

“So I think we should go back to the table, of course we can’t give what we don’t have. We are facing difficult times now; let’s sit down and see what we can do.

“I really think it’s unhealthy to keep on borrowing just to pay salaries. Apart from that we are not just there to pay salaries, there are a lot of issues. I got a call this morning that one Girls Secondary School, that their roof is off in six out of seven dormitories. Where will they sleep?

“Now if I take the whole revenues and pay salaries, how am I going to fix schools, hospitals?

“Niger State has a population of over four million; civil service strength of about 40,000, we get N1.5 billion from federation account and even with that we still have to borrow to pay 40,000 people against over 3 million people that we need to cater for‎. So I strongly believe and honestly, we should look at it.

“It’s nobody’s fault that the price of oil has gone down, it’s

nobody’s fault that the revenue has gone down. ‎we are facing difficult times but hopefully things will improve.

“I read somewhere that we are going to reduce salaries but is not true, but we engaged labour and we are still talking to them. We have laid the cards on the table, we are not hiding anything we are very transparent as much as we can but the truth of the matter is that I cannot give what we don’t have. I wish I had, personally if I had I would have paid from my pocket.”

The governor, accordingly harped on the need for all and sundry in Niger state to make sacrifice, adding that he had already set example in that direction by heavily cutting down on government expenditure.

“But we should all make sacrifices, I’m willing to make sacrifices, all my appointees are willing to make sacrifices. We have shown example by cutting down our expenditure, we have cut down the operation of the expenses of the government house from N150 million a week to N20, 25 million a week. So we have cut down government house expenditure by over 70 per cent and I mean these are all sacrifices,” he explained.

On whether he was going to probe the immediate past government in the state, he said:

“There is an ongoing investigation. We have recovered some pension funds that were misappropriated though not much. Investigation is still ongoing.

“I believe the team has met with the former Governor, Babangida Aliyu, I don’t want to interfere with their investigations.”

On the religious skirmish that broke out in Pandogari area of the state, the governor vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to book, as according to him, an investigative panel had already be instituted by the government.