As workers in Ondo State begin an indefinite strike on Wednesday over unpaid five-month salary, the government has said that the continued dropped in federal allocations has made it Impossible to pay workers’ salaries.
The government is therefore demanding that the Federal Government refund of the N9.5 billion it spent on rehabilitation of federal roads to enable it meet its obligations to workers.
It is also asking for a refund of $100 million, being an over-payment by the state during the settlement of the Paris Club debt.
The workers, who had previously showed no signs of complaint and resistance against the government’s delay in attending to the salary issue, suddenly engaged the government in a dialogue on Monday, but the meeting was unfruitful.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the labour’s meeting with the government was unfruitful as the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko, was said to be highhanded during the session.
The union leaders, it was gathered, had no choice but to call workers to strike.
The commissioner for information, Kayode Akinmade, told PREMIUM TIMES that the amount had been verified by the federal authorities and effort had been made to get the money paid to the state government.
He said the state was also expecting the $100 million Paris Club refund.
“We appreciate that this are not the best of times for workers in the state,” Mr. Akinmade said.
“We are doing all within our power to ensure we get funds to pay workers their entitlements, but if we can get the federal government to refund the N9.5 billion we spent on road rehabilitation, that will enable us pay salaries.
“This is not peculiar to Ondo State, it is affecting 32 states in the federation, but we are doing our best to handle it.”
Mr. Akinmade noted that the revenue allocation from the federation had continued to go from bad to worse such that what goes to the state could not meet very pressing government needs.
“Last month, we got only N931 million, we had to borrow N1.6 billion to augment the funds, before we could run some activities of government,” he lamented.
He admitted that the state government had no money to meet the demands of the workers, adding that the government empathized with pains and travails of the workers.
Mr. Akinmade called on the workers to show understanding, but could not state whether the government would be able to pay even month salary soon.
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