The predicament of Osun workers seems exacerbated with no less than 6 months’ salary arrears still owed by Governor Rauf Aregbesola. The governor, who appears not to have any solution in sight, looks to the President-elect for succor. Correspondent RICHARD AKINTADE x-rays the workers’ dilemma, Buhari’s link and a failed May Day celebration.
Despite their agonising living and working conditions, workers in Nigeria joined their colleagues around the world to mark the yearly International Workers Day popularly known as Labor Day.
Notwithstanding the frenzy, majority of the workers shunned the annual event in most states of the federation for obvious reasons, not unconnected with nonpayment of salary arrears by the government of their various states.
The significance of celebrating the annual ceremony by workers across the country is never lost on the toiling masses, their families, labour unions, rights movements and activists. May 1, 2015, was a day of reflection on the plight of workers.
But Labour Day or ‘laborers’ day’ as some prefer to call it is a day showcasing the entire workforce not only in the country but all over the globe.
Despite the enormous challenges, the Nigerian working class still deserves to be celebrated for their selfless contributions to national development, especially when considering the little recognition accorded them by their employers, or even by the opportunists in government parading as leaders.
However, the federal government declared penultimate Friday as public holiday, there was really nothing for Nigerian workers to celebrate except for being alive, a worker narrated to this paper anonymously.
According to him, workers cannot celebrate when they are owed salary arrears; the downturn in government’s revenue has further compounded the workers predicaments, with many states now struggling to pay wages’ he said further.
In Osun State, like most states for instance, workers are owed as much as six months’ salary while pensioners too are groaning in pain over their unpaid eight months backlog of monthly pension’s arrears.
The unpaid salary to workers in the state has contributed to the division of labour unions in the state.
In the year 2014, Workers Day celebration, there was a parallel celebration of the day by the aggrieved factional groups of the union in Osogbo the state capital.
But it took another dimension this year 2015, as the entire workers in the state shunned the annual event.
But the question on the lips of everybody is, why did Osun workers ignored their day? Was it because the union that ought to fight their cause are divided or is it because government turned its back on them by refusing to release the usual annual fabulous amount for the workers day?
Again, can’t they organise the celebration even in low key without any support from any quarters?
While most admirers of the workers were highly disappointed and condemned the labour unions for shunning the 2015 workers celebration, which has never happened in the history of the state, similarly, a human rights group in Nigeria, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice, CHRSJ, blasted the state governors that still owe workers between six to 10 months’ salary.
The civil rights group, noted that there was no justification for the backlog of unpaid workers salaries in their various States in the federation, just as it declared that the
Federal Government under the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan have paid the monthly allocation from the  federation account to the states up till date.
While criticisms and counter outbursts seems to be the order of the day, a factional President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, however warned the affected state Governors to pay their workers outstanding salary before the May 29th, 2015 handing over date to new governors of their states.
In a May Day message to the workers in the country, through its Executive Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, labour condemned the current fractionalisation of the respected labour union organisation at the
centre and the states of the federation, calling for the overhaul of the labour union umbrella body in order to be a formidable union which was the face of agitating for workers plight.
The rights activist therefore disclosed that the labour union leaders in the country have derailed and now use their mandate as a platform for selfish aggrandisement. He called for an attitudinal change of the labour leaders so as to regain the lost glory of the labour union in the land.
Regrettably, Osun State governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola was singled out as an unfriendly worker-governor in the country, among others, insisting that the accumulated seven months unpaid workers salary in the State was as a result of Aregbesola’s nonchalant attitude to the workers plight and hatred for them over the August 9th, 2014
governorship election outcome in the State.
However, reacting to the appeal of Mr. Aregbesola and his
party, the All progressives Congress (APC) to the workers in the State recently, over accumulated unpaid wages and salaries and arrears, the CHRSJ boss, said the appeal was not tenable because, the present administration in
the State has failed to give the reason why the State was unable to pay its workforce again after winning the second term bid in office.
Sulaiman alleged that Governor Aregbesola was unable to pay the State workers due to the mismanagement of Federal monthly Allocation accrued to the State from the Federation Account, stressing that Aregbesola’s administration has become Ebola virus to the people,
particularly, her workforce in the State, enjoining the workers to pray for reliable and visionary leaders for the state in 2018.
He then urged Governor Aregbesola to come open with the true position of state of financial status of the State, adding that Aregbesola’s government has failed to commission a single capital project in the State since inception of his administration since November 27th, 2010 through the Court of Appeal verdict.
Similarly, the Osun State Branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) recently wrote an open letter to the state governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola over unpaid six months salaries and other welfare packages for members.
In the letter signed by the Chairman and the Secretary of NMA Action Committee, Dr.  R.A Adebayo and Dr Adeola Ajibare and made available to Journalists in Osogbo, the body stated that medical doctors and other workers in the state had been in agony over the failure of the state government to pay their salaries.
According to Osun NMA, two previous letters dated 2nd April and 24th April, 2015, to the governor had not yielded any positive result, a situation that forced the body to issue an open letter over the matter.
The state branch of NMA regretted that despite effort made by the association to broker peace over the matter, the state governor “was unexplainably unavailable for mediation and dialogue with all negotiating teams” both at the state and national levels.
The group explained further that a meeting called at the instance of the state Head of Service with the National President of NMA, Dr. Kayode Obembe and the Chairman of NMA, Oyo state branch, Dr. M.B Olatunji in respect of its ultimatum issued to the state government on the matter led to the discovery of many other issues.
The state NMA explained that it discovered that Osun state has received monthly revenue from the Federation Account up till March, 2015 and although there was a general reduction occasioned by the dwindling fortune of the national economy.
The NMA frowned that “despite the non-payment of six months salaries to doctors and other civil servants in Osun, contractors and political office holders have been the beneficiaries of the available revenue accrued to our state from the federation account”.
The body criticized the state government for what it called misplaced priorities in resource allocation and distribution, saying “this situation has adversely affected the welfare and well-being of not only members but the entire citizenry of Osun”.
“Our association therefore concluded that the non-payment of six months salaries to our members as well as other civil servants in our dear state is not a matter of government inability but unwillingness to pay”.
While calling for immediate payment of all outstanding salaries and deductions without further delay, the state NMA stated that failure to do this, the state government should be held responsible for any action taken by the NMA afterwards.
Meanwhile, sequel to threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress to some states over the unpaid workers salaries, Osun State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has appealed to the labour leadership and workers in the state to exercise a little more patience over the current economic crisis in the state.
The party in a statement issued and signed by its Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, in Osogbo, said that the solution to the current economic crisis is underway, adding that the solution is less than 60 days away.
According to the party, the new APC -Federal government has given assurances that it would look into the Federal allocation to the states to reduce months of unpaid salaries, as soon as the new government is sworn in on May 29, 2015.
However, whatever is within the capacity of the state government to do before then, it will certainly do to ease workers plight as a result of nonpayment of salaries”.
The APC admitted that it is stressful, to celebrate in a situation of crisis, but also posited that ‘to create further crisis within a crisis is not the wisest thing to do”.
According to the party,’ the stage is already set for a solution, and dialogue would best address the details of effecting that solution, not strike or demonstration or violence, the APC said.
The APC therefore called on all stakeholders in the crisis to give peace a chance so that Osun will return to the glorious days when the Aregbesola-led APC government paid salaries promptly and effected development on a scale never before seen across the state.
In the same vein, the Osun state government reiterated its commitment to continue to partner with workers in order to ensure rapid socioeconomic development of the state.
This assurance was given on behalf of the State Government by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Engr. Olusegun Aduroja.
Aduroja, stressed that government is aware of the challenges facing workers presently due to delay in paying salaries of workers.
The PS then assured that the tide will change for better soon after the swearing in of the President elect comes May 29, 2015.
But the recent change in the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC in Osun State is said to be laced with crisis rocking the labour union with the body holding parallel congresses in the state.
While the faction loyal to Comrade Joseph Ajaero held its Congress at Government Technical College in Osogbo where Comrade Gambi Yusuf was elected as the state chairman, the other faction loyal to Comrade Ayuba Wabba held its election at Osogbo Township Stadium where the outgone Chairman was defeated by Comrade Adekomi Jacob.
And that the immediate past Chairman, Saka Adesiyan would be defeated was glaring as the delegates booed him continuously and tagged him an agent of a party working against the interest of the workers in the state
But will the new NLC leadership in Osun state with its Chairman, Babatunde Jacob Adekomi succeed in taking the entire workforce to greater height?
Only Almighty God can help him.

READ ALSO  Bravo heroics stop Portugal in Confed Cup