Subsidy removal: Makinde disappoints workers, says no salary increment, orders police to eject them from protest ground 

Subsidy removal: Makinde disappoints workers, says no salary increment, orders police to eject them from protest ground



Oyo state governor Engr Seyi Makinde has bared his fangs against civil servants in the state ignoring their demand for palliative measures and other requests made during their protest whose fifth day was marked Friday.


The protest which was in the wake of removal of subsidy on petrol by the federal government which had forced up the price of the the product by over 300 % occasioning immense hardships on the citizens had seen the organizers – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners aside other affiliates – tabling among other demands immediate announcement of palliatives for workers, payment of salary deductions, upward review of pension allowances, payment of leave bonus, payment of gratuities to retirees who have been stagnated since the year 2021 and release of promotion letters for the Year 2021 and 2022.


The protesting civil servants blocked the entry into the secretariat and displayed banners bearing various inscriptions conveying their demands. They insisted only the governor addressing them would assuage their feelings but this demand was snubbed as the governor stayed away rather sending aides to address the workers whom they however turned away and booed.


Meanwhile the governor had come out smoking accusing the protesting workers of economic sabotage and issued stern warning that if they failed to break the protest by Monday (tomorrow) they would face police action.


In a state broadcast Saturday Governor Makinde said he had prioritized the welfare of workers since his assumption of office in 2019 going ahead to reel out his achievements on workers’ welfare.


He pointed out disallowing access into the secretariat is economic sabotage asserting they were crossing the boundary of fundamental human rights.


The governor noted that such could not be tolerated any longer disclosing he had directed the security agencies to eject them if the blockade of the entry of the secretariat continues Monday.


“In the last week, the Oyo State leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have made it impossible for Oyo State Civil Servants to resume work at the State Secretariat. As a government, we believe individuals and groups have a fundamental right to protest. However, we also believe in the axiom, “Your right ends where the right of others begins.” Therefore, while the leadership of the unions may choose to continue with their protest, they do not have the right to restrict Oyo State Civil Servants from accessing the secretariat to carry out their duties as usual.


“With the Oyo State economy being fragile, any acts that disrupt the economic wheels of the State is economic sabotage.


“I have therefore directed the State security apparatus to ensure that Oyo State Civil Servants regain access to the secretariat starting this Monday, August 7, 2023. I am also by this, directing all civil servants to resume at their duty posts on Monday, August 7, 2023.”


He maintained his administration believes in dialogue calling on labour leaders to engage the government in negotiation.


“As a government, we remain open to parleying with labour to ensure that the rights of the workers of Oyo State are protected. We encourage the union leaders to return to the negotiating table to discuss any increases in salary or possible harmonisation of pension payments.


“Let me also state that the Oyo State Government remains one of the most favourably committed to workers’ welfare in the entire federation. Since May 2019, we have paid all civil servants’ salaries and pensions on or before the 25th of every month without fail. And since January 2020, we have paid the minimum wage and consequential adjustments to all cadres of civil servants every month without fail. Presently, the civil servants’ wage bill stands at N7.2 billion monthly. We have continued to pay this despite having a monthly revenue of just below N10 billion. It is, therefore, clear to understand why any increase in salaries or pensions may not be possible at this time.”


Meanwhile, the governor announced palliatives for the most vulnerable in the society under the SAfER programme, an initiative of his government including reduction in fares of Omituntun buses whose operations would now be extended to cover Ibadan to Ogbomoso, Oyo, Ibarapa, Oke-Ogun routes; food relief packages to the vulnerable; health insurance to the poor; inputs to 10,000 farmers; enterprise support for youth agropreneurs trained under the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP); assistance to small businesses to stay afloat through low-interest-rate


loans; students of tertiary institutions in the state to enjoy lower fares when they board the Omituntun Buses etc.


These measures he expressed confidence in would stimulate economic growth in the state and help to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal in the short terms.


To further demonstrate his displeasure with the workers over the protest Makinde disclosed the state government would no longer assist the labour unions to deduct any dues from source adding that the ones not yet remitted by the state government would be paid when August salary is paid just as he said health insurance premium will be paid to pensioners.


“The two-month cooperatives deductions being owed to Oyo State Civil Servants will be paid along with their August 2023 salaries on the GSM Date. Going forward, the workers who choose to continue making cooperative contributions will work directly with their cooperatives as the Oyo State Government will no longer be making any deductions at source for these cooperatives.


“We will pay the health insurance premium for all pensioners under the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) scheme. Any pensioner who has already made payment will be refunded. We remain committed to caring for our dear pensioners who served our state in their youth by ensuring that they continue to receive their pensions promptly along with other workers on the GSM Date.”

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