· laments school collapse, infrastructural deficits
· Says no disagreement over minimum wage
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday said the state’s treasury is too lean to accommodate the demands of the labour unions which the governor said would consume its entire resources.
AbdulRazaq said while the government is willing to pay the minimum wage, as has been enacted by the parliament, it cannot afford the huge chunk that would go into paying the consequential adjustments for the senior cadres.
“If we accede to the request of the labour, we will not be able to do any other thing other than paying workers. Our schools have collapsed; the basic health facilities need to be fixed; and we need to do much more for the rest of the population too,” AbdulRazaq said when he visited the dilapidated Banni Community Secondary School in Ilorin.
Locals say students sit on bare stones in the classrooms, many of which have collapsed or have had their roofs blown off.
The situation in Banni is typical of what exists in most parts of the state, AbdulRazaq said, adding that a state with such huge infrastructural deficits cannot spend 100% of its earnings on paying salaries.
“We want to pay the minimum wage. Where we disagree with the labour is consequential adjustment that they are asking for. It will mean we cannot do any other thing outside salary payment,” he added.
“The school is totally dilapidated. It is amazing that students learn inside here. And for safety reason, some structures of the school are to be shut down. I am not happy with the situation of this school and many others. Library is gone. The laboratory is gone. So, there is need for proper investment in our schools.
“As you can see we are having issues with the labour unions in the state. Yes, we’re not saying that we will not pay the minimum wage but (we can only pay) on the scale that is affordable. You can imagine a situation where local governments are earning N2.6bn a month and the salaries are almost exactly the same when you add their other expenses. The unions want an increase (of that) to N3bn. That is N400m per month increase, from where will the local governments get that? So, the consequential increase should not be that much. That’s not affordable because we have to renovate schools, hospitals, road infrastructure, and we are not going to spend 100% of our income on payment of salaries.”
He said the government is always open to negotiations but said there is a court order that should be respected.
“There is a court injunction and as far as the government is concerned there is no strike. Everybody should report to work. We will work on how to improve facilities in our state as much as we will pay salary of our workers,” he said.
AbdulRazaq called for labour’s understanding and urged them to take advantage of the government’s transparency and good faith in its dealing with the workers even during the recent lockdown.
“Negotiation is an ongoing thing. No door is shut for negotiation. We can always talk with one another,” he added.
The Daudu Banni of Ilorin Sulyman Abdulkareem lauded the Governor for his commitment to infrastructural development, recalling how the administration is fixing various road, schools, and water projects in the area and across the state.