Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, on Monday, decried the state of the economy, saying that it will be tough for state and federal governments to pay salaries and wages of their workers after the month of June if fuel subsidy is not removed.
The governor, therefore, advised workers to brace up for more hardships upon subsidy removal and take part in the discussion process for the sake of transparency instead of the norm of reacting to the policy.
“Let me point out and highlight that even though we continue to struggle in Edo, working hard to make lives better for all of you, we are not oblivious of the fact that Nigeria is in trouble. The economy of our country is in a terrible state; it will be a miracle for the federal and state governments to pay salaries beyond June this year without resorting to massively printing money or removing fuel subsidy.
“Either of these decisions will bring more hardships and pains to us as a people, particularly to you, workers. Therefore, we must all make sure that the burden and pain of these measures, which must be taken, are not borne by workers alone. Workers must now rise and ensure that they champion any discussions on subsidy removal.
“You must shift from the tradition of reacting when these policies have been made, you must now insist on taking charge so that there will be full transparency and disclosure. If we are all going to reform, then the benefits and the pains that will come out of these reforms must be mutually shared by all Nigerians, not just the downtrodden,” Obaseki said during the workers’ day celebration in Benin City.
The governor, who described workers as “unsung heroes of the society”, said his government will continue to prioritise their respective welfare and ensure they are fairly treated so that their ‘take-home pay’ can “take them home”.
“Our government has kept faith with prompt and regular payment of staff salaries and retirees in the state in the last six years. As a tradition, salaries must be paid on the 26th of every month and if there are holidays or ceremonies, we will make sure we pay workers before those ceremonies so that they will have enough to celebrate,” he added.
Odion Olaye, Edo State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in his remarks, urged the government to revitalise state-owned tertiary institutions, which, according to him, are in a state of neglect and “if nothing drastic is done, they may soon go into extinction as the 65 percent : 35 percent subvention policy has strangulated them financially and academically.