By Usama Dandare,
Whenever i had a lookery at President Buhari, I do so with pity and uttermost sympathy toward a leader who’s sacrificing his all and doing his possible best to make a nation great, but lamentably, some inexact elements within his own government are hellbent on ensuring his failure. Saboteurs and seditionists in syndicates have occupied all areas of governance with a common mission – to rubbish the president and make his stewardship appear a Joke. No sector of the economy is free from the thralldom of fifth columnists and inquisitors, they are everywhere with sophisticated arsenals at their disposal.
Among others, the persistent delay in payment of workers’ salaries is non but one major lese mageste that the Buhari administration need to look into with outmost intensity. Worried by the problems arising from the delays in payment of salaries, President Muhammadu Buhari on April 20, 2016 directed the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure the payment of workers’ salaries latest by the 25th of every month. The AGF, Mr Ahmed Idris, on his own part confirmed that the presidential directive takes immediate effect and that the government has made all necessary provisions to at least accommodate salary and other statutory payments even before FAAC (federal allocation committee) meeting, citing that the government would borrow from TSA account and repay after FAAC.
Things all went right in the first two to three months, federal workers were promptly paid on or before 25th for the months of April, May and June, however, things surprisingly began backsliding the fourth month. Since then, those saddled with the task of paying salaries reverted to the old starving way of paying on the 30th or even running into the following month on several instances. As we speak, several federal MDAs are yet to receive November salary as at today 4th December. Last month, several federal agencies including the National Orientation Agency (NOA) received their October on the 16th of November without any explanation from the authority. Sadly, this has been the trend so far and things continue to get even worser by the day, while the president seems to be unaware of this sad development.
In this period of recession, the working class are the most affected by the current economic hardships, they have no any other sources of income apart from salary while all other classes of people (both private and non working classes) depends on them for livelihood. Of course the situation of delay in payment of workers’ salaries can be attributed to lack of funds as exacerbated by the fact Nigeria is largely dependent on oil, which means there must be a negative domino effect on it economy whenever there’s a fall in oil prices, akin to what we are currently experiencing. In this situation, it’ll be understandable if the government fall short of cash in it coffers which may confront difficulties in affording to pay it bloated workforces, but in our case where the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has accumulated trillions of Naira, it’ll be difficult to convince any intellectual that government cannot afford prompt payments of salary.
Salary delay has become a habit in Nigeria over the years until the coming of President Buhari, but unfortunately, the same practice has yet again returned in full force. As a result, workers are been subjected to borrowing from banks, friends and family to supplement the absence of salary which has a very reprobated effect within the society, the debts mount up and became a burden to clear, which much often left workers with huge debts higher than their income, thus engendering workers’s lives to the act of borrowing which will in one way or the other birthed an emotional imbalance among the working class, hence affecting productivity.
The end causatum of this incessant delay in paying workers’ salaries is perhaps enormous and super-colossal, it forces unpaid workers (teachers, nurses, security personnels and other civil servants) to engage in various kinds of petty businesses and look out for several other private means of earning little income while the impatients turns to various forms of crimes to earn a living. Which as a result, many schools, hospitals and security offices are left empty without workers who are out looking to meet earns, which has a very negative effect on the overall development of a country.
For many Nigerians, corruption is the obvious reason for this endemic problem of salary delays as those in charge of paying salaries may enjoy few benefits here and there from the delays but the most glaring reason is sabotage. President Muhammadu Buhari has blocked all leakages of embezzling public resources which adumbrate threats to the existence of some corrupt government officials, many of whom have ganged up to ensure the downfall of his government and make fool of him in person. In avengers, they have now collaborated to sabotage the president’s efforts, rubbish his policies and set Nigerians against him at all cost. And perhaps, delaying or non payment of workers’ salaries without any convincing explanation is undoubtedly a sensible way for any government to loose the support, trust and confidence of its people. I stand to be corrected.
It’s for this reason that the Buhari administration need to do everything within it reach to win back the trust and confidence of it workers, by ensuring smooth payments of workers’ salaries and others entitlements without further delay as provided by the Labour Act which specifies that employers must pay salaries and wages at the end of the period agreed by both parties in an employment contract which is 24th-25th of every month. The government should in the best interest of all and sundry review or amend the labour act and provide more stringent measures that will proscribe and criminalize the habit of delaying or non-payment of salaries and outline retributions for perpetrators.
Until then, the Buhari administration can think of enjoying the full support of the working class. But the way things are moving right now, I am not sure if this culture of not paying workers as at when due is going to change anytime soon, the only inevitability I can assure is that the next time President Muhammadu Buhari will claim to be paying workers’ salaries on or before 25th, Nigerians would strenuously look with the corner end of one eye and call him a LIAR.
Usama Dandare, a social commentator writes from Sokoto. Reach him via [email protected] or facebook.com/usama.dandare or twitter @osadaby.