There was massive jubilation among civil servants in Kogi State yesterday as Governor Yahaya Bello cleared all outstanding salary arrears in the state.
A cross-section of workers who spoke with journalists in Lokoja, expressed joy over the timely “salary rainfall” in the state, saying workers received all the five months salaries owed by the Kogi State Government.
The governor had assured the royal fathers in the state and all stakeholders that his administration will clear all the salary arrears before the end of July.
Speaking with our correspondent in Lokoja, a civil servant in the Bureau of Information Service, Monisola Ayelabowo, said the governor has written his name in gold by keeping to his promise.
According to her, the problem of salary arrears started during the Governor Idris Wada Administration.
She said, “We have been battling with this problem since the last administration. We were owed a few months salaries which the present administration inherited. We are happy that the State Government has been able to utilize the bailout judiciously to clear all the arrears.
“It is now that I know that the Governor is preparing for a second term in Office. We have seen all he has done in the areas of security, roads, and agriculture. But without our salaries, it would have been difficult for us to support him. But with what he has done now, he has recovered the confidence and trust of the civil servants in his government”.
Another civil servant who introduced himself as Sanni said he works with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. He said the arrears had made life miserable for the civil servants, saying the clearance of the arrears has rekindled hope in the Yahaya Bello Administration.
“It was not easy for us but now we can smile again. Now we know we have a Governor that can keep to his promise. I will support him as long as our salaries are paid regularly”, he said.
A labour leader in the state who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said the governor has regained the hearts of the Kogi workers by paying the arrears.
He stated: “If you look at his administration, he has done very well in other areas such as education, healthcare, security, agriculture and infrastructure. The only problem has been the issue of salaries.
“We were carried along in the processes leading to the release of the bailout and he kept assuring us that as soon as he gets it, he will pay the salary arrears.
“When he got the bailout, he invited us to brief us and also listen to our recommendations. We are happy that he has cleared the arrears now and we shall be looking forward to having salaries on regular basis”.
When contacted, the state commissioner of Finance, Asiwaju Idris Ashiru, said the decision to stick to agreement of paying the salary arrears was paramount to the governor, adding that the move was more welfarist than political.
Ashiru noted: “The governor was the main driver that ensured we were able to get the bailout. And he directed that it must be applied to clear arrears of salaries.
“The decision was in line with the commitment of the Yahaya Bello Administration to ensure the welfare of the workers. It was not due to political exigencies. We also thank Mr President, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria for the roles in ensuring that was achieved.
“Going forward , the Governor has directed that we do everything possible to ensure we do not owe our workers again. What we paid now was part of the liabilities inherited from the past administration. But Government is a continuum and we have done what is needful to retain the confidence of our workforce in the administration. We also call on the civil servants to work hard to justify the renewed relationship between them and the Government”.
The Kogi state government paid a total of five months salary arrears to its civil servants.