For any government to achieve any meaningful governance through effective implementation of policies and programmes, the issue of civil servants’ welfare should be given top priority. That is why in Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong has prioritised workers’ welfare, writes GOLOK NANMWA
Since the first day he took over power as the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, vowed not to take the welfare of civil servants for granted. He also vowed that his administration would do everything possible to reform the state’s civil service.
Lalong said “our government will reinvigorate the civil service and critically review appointments, postings placements, secondments and other related political appointments and rationalisation of allocations and re allocations of government buildings and infrastructure. This will ensure they conform to best procedural practices, protect our historical monuments and ensure conformity with extant civil services and geo political balancing.
He also stated that, “We shall deliver a governance process which the best ideas rise to the top, based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political divide or the geo political zones they come from. Our government is to reduce the human sufferings by uplifting the quality of life of civil servants and a vast majority of our people.
“Ours is a promise to create opportunities not just for those with the money and influence, but for every Plateau citizen who desires to have a meaningful and productive life”.
The governor had since May 29 last year told the people of the state that he inherited an empty treasury and backlog of civil servants salaries ranging from seven to eight months. Months into office, the governor made true the promise he made when he was being sworn in on May 29th 2015, by clearing most of the salaries being owed civil servants by the immediate past administration.
In a communique made available to news men recently, the director-general, Research, Strategic Planning and Documentation, of the Plateau State government, Prof. John Wade, confirmed that in less than 60 days of being in office, the administration of Lalong, has hit the ground running by paying arrears of civil servants salaries and pension left by the immediate past administration.
The statement reads that “Apart from paying salaries arrears and redefining governance in the state, Governor Lalong has also mobilised contractors handling different road projects in the metropolis to site so as to commence work, and to reduce the suffering of motorists.”
He pointed out that immediately after the inauguration of the present administration, the first 30 days was used to take stock as there was little or no information on governance, consequently the governor directed that a transition committee should be reconstituted into different sub-committees with a view to redefining the focus of government in the state.
He also added that the present administration is focused on its policy framework and road map to redefine governance in Plateau State. Wade noted that the present administration has promised the people of Plateau State good governance, transparency and practical leadership.
Also recently, the people of Plateau State commended the governor for what they described as rescue mission in the state, especially in clearing backlog of salaries of civil servants.
Nagelu Garba, a citizen of Plateau said people of the state are particularly happy, with governor Lalong for his efforts at clearing the backlog of salaries owed the civil servants by the immediate past administration of David Jang.
He also applauded Governor Lalong for his effort towards resolving the ethnic conflict in the state. Alex Malunga another citizen of Plateau said the people of the state are convinced that Lalong administration will bring change to Plateau State during its four year tenure. He has done well by clearing of backlog of salaries, he also made proper use of the bailout funds that was sent to the state recently. I think he deserves to be commended, he said.
It could be recalled that following the received of the bailout funds from the federal government , Gov Simon Lalong had immediately approved the constitution of an Implementation Committee to disburse the bailout fund for payment of backlog of salaries.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr. Emmanuel Nanle, Director of Press and Public Affairs and made available to newsmen in Jos. The statement noted that the constitution of the committee was based on the approval of N5.37 billion bailout funds by the Federal Government.
The committee is to assiduously see to the application of the funds towards the payment of all outstanding salaries. It said, however, that the fund from the bailout is not enough to clear the salaries, other staff entitlements and ongoing critical projects.
The statement assured that more funds would be secured under an ongoing intervention being negotiated by the state government to settle the balance of staff salaries, pensions, gratuities and ongoing critical contracts.
The governor met with the members of Plateau State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council to update them on the state government’s debt restructuring and issues involving the available bailout.
The statement quoted Lalong as thanking civil servants, serving and retired as well as citizens of the state for their patience, understanding and support. The governor promised that he will not rest on his oars until all matters concerning salaries, ongoing critical road projects and other matters of governance are fully addressed.
Members of the committee, according to the statement were the former Plateau Head of Civil Service, Huldah Fwangch as chairman, the Accountant-General and the permanent secretary, Establishment and Pension Matters.
Others are Permanent Secretary Local Government Service Commission, the State Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, and the Director General, Debt Management Office. The statement also named the state chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, the state chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, as members of the committee.
Similarly the chairman of, Pankshin Local Government Area, Stephen Jings also expressed confidence that the State Governor, Simon Lalong made judiciously proper use of the bailout funds accrued to the state. Jings had made the appealed in a chat with our correspondent in Jos, the state capital.
Jings said the state governor, Simon Lalong made judiciously use of the funds as backlog of salaries of civil servants in the state were cleared. He explained that the governor is on a rescue mission and would ensure that people of the grassroots are not left out in terms of development, adding that so far, Lalong has done well since assumption of office.
Meanwhile governor Lalong has again said that he would remain committed to bettering the lives of civil servants in the state. He also “The economic realities confronting the nation have called for diversification of our revenue base beyond the over dependence on oil. Governor Lalong stated this during the May 1st workers day celebration in Jos the state capital.
He said “Our agriculture, tourism and solid mineral sectors have now become the bride of our economic revival.” Governor Lalong who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr. Izam Azi, said that “since workers are the engine room of growth and development of all economies in a well-organised setting, government cannot afford to leave the workforce behind in her quest for this economic revival.”
According to the governor, “We have already demonstrated our commitment by clearing the over seven months’ salary arrears of workers left behind by the immediate past administration in the state as well as the continuous payment of pension arrears beside the harmonization of over 500 pensioners hitherto un-captured before we came on board.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the chairman of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Plateau State Chapter, Comrade Dinatu Assani, said that the union was ready for positive action and confrontation with the state government to pay the remaining workers for the outstanding workers’ arrears and other benefits. According to Assani, “We are ready for action and confrontation
with government until our demands are met.
“We should not suffer because the National Assembly and the Executive have this problem about the 2016 budget. We are not ready for negotiation again about salaries. We are not coming to negotiate or bargaining for salaries again because enough is enough. National security should take note of that.”
In his contribution on behalf of Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Comrade,
Steve Aluko Daniel, who is also the director of the Civil Liberties
Organization, CLO, said unemployment of the youths in the nation is unacceptable, saying that enough is enough. He said that the sustenance of peace on the Plateau should be paramount in the state.
Daniel added that any government wishing to come back should base on performance and nothing else, “We will not mind taking the stance of the way we fought the military to a standstill.”