As representatives of 21 Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] governors mounted the rostrum Saturday night at the presidential villa in Abuja to announce N1.05 billion in donation to the PDP, back in their respective states, school teachers and other state workers were enduring their second or third month of work without pay.
In some states, the indebtedness to workers stretched a year.
In Ebonyi, authorities owed teachers under the Universal Basic Education scheme nearly 12 months of salaries.
In Abia State, secondary school teachers were last paid in August, while primary school teachers have been owed since October.
In Akwa Ibom State, the nation’s leading oil producer which draws more than triple of what other states receive from the federation account monthly, local government staff were on strike. Before the strike, they were forced to receive half salaries for several months, while authorities claimed they had no money.
In Cross River, the situation had worsened after months of indebtedness that state-run television, the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation, CRBC, shut off production last week.
The station remains off air till date. Other staff fortunate to have received reasonably up-to-date pay, have yet to be paid for November.
But on Saturday night, Cross State governor, Liyel Imoke, stood next to his Bauchi State colleague, Isa Yuguda, as Mr. Yuguda announced to a gleeful president and a shocked nation how the 21 governors who had been struggling to pay salaries long before the present oil crisis, rallied N50 million each in donation to the PDP.
“We may do more in future, but that is what we were able to raise for now,” Mr. Yuguda assured.
In all, the PDP and the president raked in over N21 billion, with donations coming from government contractors, nameless associates, and Tunde Ayeni, the head of Skye Bank, who has bought a string of government assets, including the mega telecoms carrier, NITEL/MTEL, in a process that has already become controversial.
On Monday, Arabian Amlak Investment Limited, one of the 22 companies that bid for NITEL, filed a legal challenge, saying the Nigerian government, through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, deliberately skewed the privatisation process to favour Mr. Ayeni’s company.
As chairman of the PDP fund raiser, Mr. Ayeni donated N2 billion. He announced that he was donating N1 billion on behalf of himself and an unnamed partner, and another two billion on behalf of his friends. After a while, Mr. Ayeni returned to the podium to announce another donation of half a billion naira on behalf of himself and other players in the country’s power sector.
A former Information Minister, Jerry Gana, announced a donation of N5 billion, again, on behalf of his unnamed friends and associates in the power sector.
Other major donors were oil and gas operators– N5 billion; players in Real Estate and Building – N4 billion; Transport and Aviation – N 1billion; Food and Agriculture – N500 million; Power – N500 million; Construction – N310 million; Road Construction – N250 million; National Automotive Association – N450 million; Shelter Development Limited – N250 million; and SIFAX group – N100 million.
But the governors’ donations stood out for many reason, including the fact that workers in many of their states remain without pay for months even with Christmas and New Year around the corner.
In Plateau State, under Jonah Jang, workers are currently owed three months of pay. In Ondo State, Governor Olusegun Mimiko has also failed to pay secondary school teachers and other categories of workers for the last three months.
In Benue State, workers have been at a longstanding confrontation with the governor, Gabriel Suswam, who has yet to pay them for months.
In Abia State, led by Theordore Orji, beside secondary school teachers who were last paid in August, and primary school teachers, last paid in October, secondary school teachers told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday they have not received leave allowances in the last five years.
In Enugu State, civil servants are yet to be paid for November, more than three weeks into the new month. Workers who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said in past years, the culture was that by now, they would have been paid for December.
On Monday, labour union leaders in the state gave the state governor, Sullivan Chime, a 21-day ultimatum to clear salary backlog and resolve other pending issues relating to staff welfare or face strike.
A statement signed by Igbokwe Igbokwe, the state Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC), and the chairmen and secretaries of all labour unions in the state, vowed to commence an indefinite strike January 15, 2015, if the demands are not met.
Akwa Ibom’s case remains one of the most intriguing given the amount the state draws monthly. While other states receive an average of N5billion, Akwa Ibom and Rivers State receive as much as N25 billion monthly as federal allocation.
Still, state workers and pensioners have not received pay for several months, and local government workers are currently on strike.
While the state is not directly responsible for paying local government workers, all states in the country operate a compulsory joint account with local governments, and disbursement of local government funds are carried out by the governors.