Civil servants in Kano State said Wednesday that they had been left confused following unexplained slashes in their November and December salaries.
Some civil servants said they were left with less than the old minimum wage of N18, 000. Officials of the state government denied reverting to the old minimum wage, insisting that there were only deductions because of the prevailing recession in the country occasioned by COVID-19.
The federal government had in 2020 increased the minimum wage to N30, 000 and some states followed suit by adopting the increment based on the grade level of their workers.
A cross-section of civil servants in Kano described the “slash” as unfair, saying the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje-led administration shouldn’t have deducted money from their November and December salaries at a period when it released N2.3billion for the conduct of local government elections scheduled for January 16.
This is even as many of them have continued to raise questions on what the government is doing with the several monies it is getting from different sources including federal allocation, internally generated revenue and grants from donor agencies.
Daily Trust reports that Kano State is not the only state in the country to have tampered with workers’ salaries in recent times.
Most recently, the Niger State Government had declared that it could no longer pay 100 per cent salary while Gombe State stopped the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage since March 2020, both citing the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s economy.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai, the Special Adviser on Media to Kano State governor, said on Wednesday that “the state government has reverted to the initial minimum pay due to recession. What we are getting now as a government has reduced, and we can’t afford to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage.”
Efforts to get clarification from the Head of Service, Binta Ahmed proved abortive as calls to her number were not connecting while a text message sent to her was marked delivered but not responded to as at press time. A Daily Trust reporter also went to her office at the Audu Bako Secretariat and was told she had not been to the office all through the day (Wednesday).
However, speaking with Daily Trust, the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba said it was not really a case of reverting to the 18,000 minimum wage but that of reduction because of the current economic situation in the country.
It was gathered that these deductions affected the 55,505 mainstream civil servants in the state as of December 31, 2020. This figure includes all state Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including tertiary institutions but excluding Maitama Sule University and Kano State University of Science and Technology, Wudil. The decision, it was gathered, also affected all political appointees of Governor Ganduje.
Some of us got less than N18, 000 – Civil servants
All the civil servants that spoke with Daily Trust pleaded not to be named. One of them with the state’s Teacher’s Service Board said they noticed the deduction from their salaries in November 2020, and it was also repeated in December without any explanation to that effect.
He said while it was rumoured that the state government had reverted to N18, 000 minimum wage, what was deducted in December from his salary was more than the increase accrued in the N30, 000 minimum wage increment, meaning what he got was even below the N18, 000 minimum wage. He said he discovered he was not the only one that suffered this fate.
Another source in one of the state’s ministries said the unannounced deduction from workers’ monthly salary has demoralised the entire civil servants in the state, adding that he did not blame the government but the labour union that decided to keep mum on the issue.
“Monies were deducted from our salaries during the first wave of COVID-19 throughout the lockdown period, that we understood; but with this deduction, I blame the labour union for keeping quiet on the development. We do not know who to rely on,” he lamented.
A female civil servant also told one of our reporters that the civil service sector has been under what she called ‘Gatarin Ganduje’ (Ganduje’s axe).
According to her, at present, no civil servant in the state know the exact amount of money he will receive at the end of the month as salary and as such cannot effectively plan.
When contacted, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Kabiru Ado said it is the Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) that is vested with negotiation at the state level and not the NLC “but NLC is only a witness in the negotiation”.
According to him, “We have not received any official communication from the government to revert to old wage as circulated by some media outlets. So, we will stand by the signed agreement of N30, 600 entered since December 2019.”
The Chairman of Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) of the organised labour in Kano State, Comrade Hashim Saleh, told Daily Trust that the organised labour was not carried along and even when it reached out to the government in December to stop the deductions, government disregarded them.
“In November 2020, they just went ahead without our knowledge and consent. They just deducted the money, which is contrary to the agreement of the signed salary structure in accordance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention. They did this without following due process,” he said.
He said the provision of the ILO Convention is that if there is a problem with the income of the government, the government has to summon a meeting with the representatives of the workers “to sit down and bring all the books of the financial expenditure and income” so the representatives of the workers will understand that there is truly a problem with the income.
According to him, “After making a series of investigations, we (the JNC) wrote a letter to the government to stop the deduction and refund the already deducted money. We cited an authority to back this demand up. We sent the letter through the Office of the Head of Service to the governor. We copied all the relevant stakeholders.
“The government invited us in December. Myself, the chairman NLC, the chairman TUC and all stakeholders, even those not under the JNC and TUC were also in the meeting. They (government) told us they have financial problems and we told them there is no such thing as a financial problem so far.
“During our negotiation, the income shared by the federal government was less than N600 billion but in November 2020, FG shared over N600 billion. So, we did not agree with the position that there is no money.
“Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, we were the ones that agreed that all civil servants should contribute 10% of their salaries because there was lockdown, but in this case, there is no lockdown at all. Even the government is generating revenue from different businesses including PAYE. So, we were not satisfied with their position that the government does not have money. And we also did not agree to any deduction in December salaries.
“We told them we will go and further discuss with other colleagues but before we got home, we discovered that they (government) started paying local government staff salaries with deductions. So, the following day, we wrote to them again and expressed our dissatisfactions but they continued with their deductions,” he added.
He said at the meeting, which was chaired by the Head of Service, it was the commissioner for local government that told them that the money the LGs are generating from the federation accounts was not enough to pay the employees of the LGs and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
“Kano State Government (at the meeting) actually never disclosed that they do not have money but only the commissioner for local government was the one that continued saying there is no money. The commissioner for finance, commissioner for special duties, ALGON chairman and the head of service did not say anything,” he added. On the next step to be taken by the organised labour, Comrade Sale said they (organised labour) will be meeting next week and after the meeting, their position will be made public.
“At the moment, we are doing underground works to ensure that we compel the government to return to the normal payment of salaries in the state because what they are doing is illegal,” he added.
Why we deducted from workers’ salaries
The Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba told Daily Trust that: “It is not that we have reverted but what the state government did was that you know, we entered into recession and the allocation from the federal government has gone down drastically and coupled with the COVID-19, the internally generated revenue has also come down.
“So, we found it very difficult to accommodate the N30, 000 minimum wage. Therefore, instead of us not to pay salaries, the government decided to do some reduction from the workers’ salaries.
“It is a deduction actually, not that government has reverted to N18, 000 minimum wage. Some (workers), based on the deductions, will reflect N18,000 and some will reflect N19,000 but there are ways and manner according to the grade level, that is how the ministry for finance and that of local government actually did for November and December salaries.”
He assured that by the time the country gets out of recession, “and we see improvement in the revenue, which the government is making a lot of efforts, I want to assure you that we have already signed agreement with the labour on N30, 000 minimum wage, so there is no way we can completely revert back and say we are paying N18, 000. That is the truth of the matter.”
On why the civil servants were not informed of the decision to deduct their salaries, the commissioner said he is not sure if the labour union has been contacted.
“I am sure such a decision is something that should be done with labour union but if eventually that has not been done, I am sure the government will find a way of talking to the labour and I am sure the labour will understand with the government.”
He added that “there are many states that are not even paying salaries now. Some states said it openly that they can only pay half salary but in Kano, the governor said ‘we have to pay salaries. The only thing we have to do is to make some deductions from the salaries’, which I believe the civil servants should understand.”
FG To Pay 24 Million Poor Nigerians N5,000 Each – Sadiya Farouq
The Federal Government on Tuesday said about 24.3 million poor Nigerians would get N5,000 each for a period of six months.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Federal Government’s emergency intervention database for the urban poor.
A statement issued in Abuja by her aide, Nneka Anibeze, said the intervention would serve as cushion for those further impoverished by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement read in part, “According to records, about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals were identified at the end of 2020 and registered into the National Social Register.
“Each beneficiary will receive N5,000 for a period of six months.”
Farouq said the intervention database was needed to develop the capacity for rapid response to any emergency including natural or man-made disasters.
The minister said the Rapid Response Register was designed to rapidly identify, register and provide succour to people who were not previously captured in the social register.
Speaking on the RRR, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said the register deployed a wholly technology-based approach, adding that it was primed to achieve an end-to-end digital foot-print in cash transfers for the urban poor.
This, he said, would also help the government to achieve its financial inclusion policy under the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access programme.
He said, “The groundbreaking success of the RRR now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of 20 million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent.”
Osinbajo also hinted that the Federal Government would seek funding for the intervention programmes as the country deserved a social security scheme that would not only alleviate poverty but also create wealth for millions of those waiting for the opportunity.
Osinbajo: Lifting 20 Million Nigerians Out Of Poverty In 2 Years Within Reach
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
ESP CASH TRANSFER SCHEME:
LIFTING 20 MILLION NIGERIANS OUT OF POVERTY IN NEXT 2 YEARS NOW WITHIN REACH, SAYS OSINBAJO
*VP adds: Nigeria deserves social security scheme not just for poverty alleviation, but wealth creation also
*Nigeria first country in Africa to develop & test wholly technology-based approach to social protection
Following the successful activation of the Economic Sustainability Plan’s (ESP) Cash Transfer scheme aimed at delivering financial support to at least 1 million urban-based households using technology, the Buhari administration’s vision of reducing extreme poverty by lifting at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years is now within reach, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this Tuesday in Abuja while flagging-off, virtually, the cash transfer scheme to be facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register (RRR).
RRR is the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified using geographic satellite technology and other related means for the purposes of delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
According to the Vice President “the groundbreaking success of the RRR, now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of twenty million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.”
“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because, this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.
“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalizing the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years.”
The Vice President maintained that the launch of the (RRR) social protection method of targeting, which is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.
His words: “As of 31st December 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households. Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 Billion directly into the hands of about 2 million poor and vulnerable people every month.
“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes, adding that Nigeria now has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.
She said “By design, this register links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers. It is also a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria. There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we would be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance”.
On his part, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting it as a critical component in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While pledging the support of the World Bank for the project, Mr Chaudhuri emphasized the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.
About 3,115 households received alerts of payments instantly at the flag-off of the project by the Vice President. A total of 1 million households would be impacted directly under the scheme in the next 6 months.
The Cash Transfer scheme which is part of the ESP is designed to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria. The RRR focuses mainly on the urban poor wards selected using scientifically validated methods of satellite remote sensing technology, machine learning algorithm and big data analysis.
Also present at the event include the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige; the representative of the European Union (EU) mission in Nigeria, Mr Ketil Karlsen, among others.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th January 2021
NDLEA Makes Its Largest Cocaine Seizure Of 21.9Kg In Abuja Airport
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) on Monday announced that it has made its largest cocaine seizure till date after it intercepted 21.9kg of cocaine at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
This was contained in a statement signed by the NDLEA Airport Commander, Mr. Kabir Tsakuwa, and the agency’s Spokesman, Deputy Commander of Narcotics (DCN) Jonah Achema.
Both officers said the substance was concealed in two unclaimed suite cases discovered after the arrival of Ethiopian Airline, ET 910 in Abuja from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the statement, vigilant officers of the Command became suspicious upon noticing that the two briefcases were abandoned on the conveyor belt without any passenger claiming them during the inward clearance of the flight.
Tsakuwa, the airport commander then directed the officers to keep an eye on the suitcases and informed the Airline and its handlers of NDLEA’s interest in the luggage.
Days after the luggage were not claimed, Tsakuwa said they formally contacted the station Manager of Ethiopian Airline and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO Aviance) indicating the suspicion of the agency on the suitcases.
“I placed a standing order that NDLEA should be invited before the luggage would be released to the owner or in the event that the luggage would be returned to the point of embarkation.
“After many weeks of no claim by the owners, we informed the Airline on the need for a search to be conducted on the unclaimed suitcases.
“The Airline officials, including the baggage handler along with the Department of State Services, Aviation Security and Nigeria Customs Service were invited to NDLEA Office where the search was conducted.
In the first suitcase, three blankets were found out of which two contained parcel of transparent nylon which housed whitish substances suspected to be hard drugs.
Field test on the substance proved positive for cocaine and weighed 10.750kg.
“The second unclaimed suitcase contained twenty-two packet shirts, one parcel of drug was concealed in each of the shirts and covered with a blue carbon paper containing a transparent nylon.
“The substance was also field-tested and proved positive for cocaine and weighed 11.150KG. The second suitcase had a baggage tag with a name Nze Lusaka U. The drug seized made a total of 21.9kg,” he said.
The command said investigation was still ongoing and the Command was liaising with Ethiopian Airline to get more information to unravel the identity of the couriers.
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