By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Governor Muhammad Abubakar of Bauchi State has called for a review of the revenue allocation formula ahead of the implementation of the proposed national minimum wage of N66, 000 in the country.
Speaking on the occasion marking the World May Day cerebration observed in Bauchi Tuesday, the governor want specifically the workers agitate for the review of the revenue allocation formula to press home their demand for a minimum wage.
He told the workers, “The time has come for you to start agitating for a review of the revenue allocation formula. That is the only way states can be able to bear the huge cost of the increase in minimum wage”.
“We are essentially in support of an increase, we are all Nigerians, we live with you, we go to the same market with you. We therefore realize that there is need for a review”, the governor said.
The governor added, “But within that review, we shouldn’t do it in such a way that I can be able to pay one month, and then I’m unable to pay the second month, it wouldn’t help because it will do what in Hausa we call “Haihuwar Guzuma, Uwa kwance, ‘Ya kwance”.
Abubakar pleaded with the workers, “So please workers of Bauchi state assist us by agitating for a review of the revenue allocation formula in the country. Resources of Bauchi state will not be able to pay the N66, 000 minimum wage”.
He revealed that the Bauchi state government has a monthly wage bill of N5.2 billion as salaries of civil servants while the monthly accruable revenue from the federation account allocation committee is at most N7 billion.
“By the time you take away N5.2 billion you know what remain out of that to take care of mandatories like feeding of school children, pumping of treated water, payment to PHCN, payment of drugs to hospitals, and so many other things”.
To this end, the governor said that the state government need the help of workers as
‘We need your help as governors of Nigeria’, stressing that the states and local governments are the centres of population where every action take place such as education, health, and agriculture, among others.
On the non-payment of gratuities to retired civil servants, Abubakar attributed it all to what he described as unrealistic figure of N26.3 billion backlog, saying it doesn’t tally with reason that N15.5 billion in 2015 will now stands to N26.3 billion.
“So please this matter is still lingering, “I’m appealing to you, I’m ready to commence payment, I’m ready but you to cooperate with me, and along with the payment of gratuities, I even include leave grants, but you have not allow me to effect payment”.
The governor therefore urged civil servants in the state to give the government the correct figure of the gratuities backlog as, according to him, he sleep and wake-up with the issue of gratuities payment as the only serious outstanding matter between him and the workers.
“So I’m begging the workers of Bauchi state, I have set up a committee, cooperate with the committee so that we can get to the bottom of this problem, along with other problem, let get to the bottom of a proper payroll for the Bauchi state government”.
The governor wondered how on a daily basis people retire from the service with pension bills keep going up, but the salary bill doesn’t go down whereas there was embargo on employment.
He said however that the government has embarked on improving the state internally generated revenue, integration of nominal payroll to drive the payroll, effective e-payment system through integrated finance management information system (IFMIS) and human resource management information system (HRMIS).
Governor Abubakar appealed to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the entire workers of the state to ensure that the rapport and cooperation between them and the government continued in the interest of the state.
Abubakar assured the workers of Bauchi state that the civil service will remain a veritable machine and medium through which government’s policies and programmes will be implemented, and called on workers to support the government towards moving the state to the next level.
The governor assured the civil servants that they will be included in the distribution of farming implements, so far as they were farmers, and can apply to be loaned to them at subsidized rates.
The State Head of Service, Alhaji Liman Bello has earlier noted that the involvement of civil servants in ministries, departments and agencies are clear testimony of government’s commitment to enhancing their capacity.
He therefore called on workers and the organized labour to reciprocate the administration’s gesture through strong ownership, support, and propagation of its policies and programmes.
The NLC state chairman, Comrade Hashimu Mohammed Gital had in a welcome address said that the congress initial demand of N56, 000 minimum wage has been reviewed upward to N66, 000.
Comrade Hasimu Gital appealed to the state government to consider workers be part of beneficiaries of farming tools/equipment and inputs recently procured and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari during his two-day official visit to the state.