Ondo, against previous stance, borrows to pay workers’ salaries
NEWS DIGEST – Three years after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said his government would only pay workers’ salaries with its resources, he finds himself borrowing funds to fulfil this obligation.
“Because it got to that point where we cannot allow our workers to be seen as suffering, due to no fault of ours,” Gov. Akeredolu told the leadership of striking doctors on Wednesday.
Gov. Akeredolu said the bad economy of the country, which comes off the heels of the 2020 pandemic, forced him into rethinking his options.
“If it is to bend backwards to keep our workers afloat, we shall not hesitate, and that is why we are reviewing our earlier stand that we would not borrow to pay salaries,” he added.
The state government is currently at loggerheads with workers who have expressed disdain at the manner in which their salaries were paid. The Ondo state government settled upon the percentage salary structure to help it pay workers’ salaries despite dwindled federal allocation and revenue generation.
In June, the state’s branch of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria revealed that inflation was becoming unbearable with the percentage salary structure and demanded that the governor “retool the finances of the state government to enable his administration settle salary arrears of workers from March, 2021.”
Ondo State doctors, whose leadership met with the governor on Wednesday, have been on strike since June over the government’s failure to pay their salary arrears.
Governor Akeredolu suggested optimism that the state doctors would resume to their duties after he guaranteed that their salary arrears would be paid with immediate effect.
“As regards the salaries of those who have not been paid, I can assure you that the money is intact, and it has been kept in an escrow account,” he said.
Unless the economic situation of the country improves, the Ondo state government may have to tread the continuous path of borrowing to pay salaries, and Gov. Akeredolu warns that it may have serious implication for the state’s future.
“The danger, however, remains that we are eating our future, as more goes into the recurrent than the capital as it were,” he added.