Unpaid Salaries: Govt Should Be More Responsible | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Unpaid Salaries: Govt Should Be More Responsible

Posted: May 18, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The widespread tale of unpaid civil servants’ salaries, which today reverberates across the length and breadth of the country is, to say the least, troubling. It is a clear case of government’s disregard for the tenets of social contract ‘laid down in the workers’ letters of employment. 

Every government owes it a duty to pay its workers after they have satisfied their own condition for payment. It is utterly demeaning and unacceptable for a government to plunge its workers into a pitiable state of penury, diffidence and dishonour after working to earn a pay. Watching grown-up, respectable people going cap in hand and begging for food is the height of dehumanisation and injustice. This could never have been the kind of contract which the workers signed with the governors when they were roving the nooks and crannies of their various states campaigning for election. 

Surprisingly, the debtor-states span many geo-political zones and, inexplicably, some of them, which are believed to be rich, also owe. These debtor-states are Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Plateau, Osun, Oyo and Rivers. Even the Federal Government that should lead by example owes too. No explanation can justify the non-payment of salaries. If government is demanding commitment, probity and accountability from its workers, it should pay salaries promptly. Owing workers is an indirect invitation to corruption in the civil service, which all well-meaning Nigerians are asking the in-coming administration to stamp out from the polity. 

According to reports, the Federal Government alone owes about N50 billion outstanding workers’ salaries and allowances. These are all indications of government’s insensitivity and lack of care for people’s welfare. It is shocking that in the midst of all this, federal and state governments are still paying jumbo severance package to officials and legislators. We need to ask where the money is coming from. It is high time government recognised that hiring workers is a social responsibility and not an act of favour. 

When an out-going government fails to pay salaries, it creates a huge problem for the in-coming administration and at the same time paves the way for free looting and indiscriminate borrowing. Politicians have never really shown that they can be trusted with money. All the debtor- governments should structure the payment of these outstanding salaries and allowances so that the affected workers can plan with the money. Sack is not an option because the workers are not the offenders. The only option is that Government may not hire new hands in the immediate term until all outstanding debts are paid.

State governments should look inwards and device a means of generating funds internally. They can do this successfully not by copying what other solvent states are doing but by discovering their potentials and harnessing them accordingly. Meanwhile, they should slash overhead and streamline the huge allowances paid to political office holders.