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THE MINIMUM WAGE DEBACLE IN ZAMFARA AND KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS THAT CALL FOR NOVEMBER RECONCILIATION

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By
Anas Sani Anka
Managing Editor
_____________________________________
(BIG STORY)
The National Leadership of The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a Letter of Threat to the Zamfara state government dated 19th September 2022 over Non-implementation of N30,000 Minimum Wage to the state civil servants.

In the letter, the Labour Union threatened to shut-down the state if the state government failed to act by implementing the Minimum Wage within twenty one days ultimatum.

Since when the letter was of threat by the NLC was released, stakeholders believed there are more to be expected in terms of the possible face-off between the Labour union and the Zamfara state government especially with the level of economic crises facing states coupled with the social insecurity ravaging the state.

One of the key stakeholders that raised alarm over the development is the Concerned Citizens for Social Justice a Non-governmental organization who crafted a long essay arguing on the economic strengths of the state to deliver to the threat of the Nigerian Labour Congress.

They have presented key economic indicators that are visible to determine the strengths of the state government to meet up with the demands of the labour union. They argued:

“Our economy is weak enough to handle the demand for the payment of N30,000 Minimum Wage and despite the fact that the new Minimum Wage is a law there are exceptional circumstances which required a holistic review before a final stand is taken”.

“We believed the infraction is caused by the inability of the two actors to come together with genuine mind and address the lingering infractions related to the payment of the Minimum Wage” the Civil Society argued.

Going further, they argued: “Zamfara is the only state that is earning in between N2billion and below per month from the Federation Account as “Monthly Cash Allocation” and this allocation the state is receiving from the Federation Account suffered heavy hammer of on-the-spot-deduction which is within the average of between N400-600m per month as a result of the various Court Orders and agreements entered into by the successive governments”.

The group argued that, “ In 2021 alone Zamfara state government expended the sum of N27.1b in debt servicing and 90% of this debt was secured by the past administrations”.

They have also raised in their submission that: “The state government is battling with over (75) Court cases bordering on the claims by the contractors whose claims are also due for payment even before the coming of the present government”.

They argued further that on record “the state has also entered into the “Out-of-Court” arrangement with over twenty contractors who have Pending Claims as far back as 2010 and relief of commitment has commenced to settling their liabilities out of the court by the present government”.

Another interesting part of their submission is the revelation by the Malam Wakkala Transition Committee of 2019 where it mentioned the Committee reported that “the administration has inherited a liability including claims by the contractors worth over N240b Naira from the successive administrations.

 

Theseliabilities had to be settled as pointed earlier since some contractors had already headed to court to file some actions against the state government”.

 

Another area of concern by the members of the Civil Society Organizations and public is the low level of Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) earnings. They argued that, “Since 2010 the IGR earnings of Zamfara state hardly goes beyond N3billion annually.

 

Unfortunately for us, Zamfara has over (70) revenue generating agencies but for the past three and a half years precisely from June 2019 to date the performance of these agencies in terms of remittance to the state is as low as half a billion Naira”.

“The only defendable source of revenue accrued to the state is the “Pay-as-You-Earn”. The fact is that it is not because revenue is not being paid but because of alleged corruption and unwanted leakages” the group added.

Talking about the “heavy workforce, the Civil Society Organization argued that “it has become a clear source of worry that Zamfara a state with (14) local governments has a workforce of over sixty thousand Civil servants put together”. The number is heavier than that of Kano and Kaduna respectively,who are by far populous in terms of number of local governments and workforce.

The organization went further to extend their analysis by saying “based on the analysis we have made, the current government took over with a monthly salary liability of N1.4billion Naira and a corresponding monthly pension liability of N106 million Naira.

But just few weeks back, the Deputy Accountant General of the State announced that in (35) months, the state government was able to pay Gross Salary of N71billion and if one divides N71billion by (36) it means the state is spending on the average a total of N1.9b for the payment of monthly salary”.

The DAG announced also that, the state has spent the sum of N6billion in the payment of Monthly Pension to state civil servants and again when one divides N6billion by (36) it means the state is spending on the average the sum of N166billion for the payment of the Monthly Pension.

The proportionate increase in both salary Payroll and that of the Monthly Pension has really raised a big question to answer according to the Civil Society Organization. “We understand that typically the Labour force for Zamfara is not really justifiable looking at the other side of the argument that, the figure of the entire political appointees in Zamfara is not up to (3,000)”.

Recently or precisely by January 2021 an Audit was made into the Payroll of the Zamfara Hospital Service Management Board and it was discovered that salaries of senior medical doctors on transfer to other federal health facilities, medical staff whose contracts had expired, staff without medical qualifications were still running head-on in the Payroll of the state.

 

In that particular Audit made close to N25,000,000.00 were saved in an establishment of the state that is receiving a Monthly Grant of about N255,000,000.00 for payment Monthly Salary to the state Civil servants”.
They argued further that, “the labour need to be reminded that, the social insecurity ravaging the state has now paralyzed the entire economic activities of the state. Currently however, the state has applied security measures and enforced the “Doctrine of Self Defense” and on record, the security situation of the state cannot resist the idea of state shut-down because a salt will surely be added into the injury”.

“It will interest the labour Union to note that what the state government is expending to augment the security operation including Procurement of operational vehicles as well as payment of allowances is such a heavy amount that is enough to resolve the Minimum Wage issue and also do other sensitive things for the development of the state” the group added.

WHAT LABOUR UNION AND ZAMFARA STATE GOVERNMENT NEED TO DO AS LONG TERM MEASURES.

The Labour Union and Zamfara state government need to come together to passion out ways to enhance the challenges of stagnating condition of resources and reduce the unnecessary burden on the government especially from the perspective of human resources that are not needed by the state.

The Labour union and state government need to sustain the matching line to ensure that payment of salary is sustained on monthly basis without any break. The concern of everyone is to make sure that, Zamfara does not fall into the list of those other states that cannot afford/sustain the payment of monthly salary. Similar spirit goes to the payment of Monthly Pension as well as release of the Monthly Standing Order for the payment of gratuity.

The labour union and state government should work hard to block leakages from the intrusion of ghost workers and also padding of salary figures by some unpatriotic state civil servants.

The Labour Union and Zamfara state government need to work toward checkmating corruption among the revenue generating agencies in order to ensure that all revenues due for the state are remitted to the state consolidated revenue account.

Labour union shall watch carefully on the extent of the debt being incurred for the state and the purpose it is meant for because its members are being used in preparing the schedule and securing of the loan.

THE FLAT AGREEMENT AND DECEMBER 2022 DATELINE

In consideration of the development the Chairman of the committee on the implementation of the N30,000 Minimum Wage in Zamfara Former Minister of Finance Ambassador Bashir Yuguda has championed a Tri-partite Meeting between the state government and labour union so that the threat of shut-down can be stand-down.

 

Yuguda at a meeting held at the office of the Deputy Governor on Tuesday said the state government is very much willing to implement the Minimum Wage but pointed that the economic condition of the state caused the delay.

He assured that based on the agreement he has reached with the state as Committee chairman, the Minimum Wage will be implemented by November 2022.

The State Deputy Governor has also assured that the commitment of the government as contained in the Memorandum of Action signed between the parties on Tuesday.

The Labour Union on their own part had expressed hope that the commitment of the state government be fulfilled at the moment agreed so that the hope and confidence of the State Civil Servants be fulfilled.

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ZAMFARA: WHY ENGR SULEIMAN GUMMI’S DESPERATE TACTICS WON’T SAVE PDP

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OPINION ARTICLE

By

Yusuf Idris Gusau

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This is no doubt the best of times for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State.

The party and its many candidates deserve the sympathy of all for the current situation it finds itself in.

Having lost all hopes of making any impact in the forthcoming general elections, it has resorted to untoward means, behaving like a bull in a china shop, destroying anything and everything in its way.

But how can a party of PDP’s standing, which has been in power at some points for many years and its candidates behave like deranged women whose kids have suddenly gone missing?

In this moment of madness, there should be a sane member within the lot who could rein them in; a rallying figure who could calm the fraying nerves.

But when a ranking member of one of the country’s highest law making body, the House of Representatives, Suleiman Abubakar Gummi’s joined the fray, it then becomes obvious that the situation is irredeemable.

The party, as it were, is doomed and at a dire point of no return.

The honourable member of the House of Representatives has swelled the number of the PDP’s attack dogs whose targets include the ruling party and the state chief executive, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle.

In a press statement he recently signed on behalf of “PDP candidates” titled “On critical national alert” Gummi went the “dishonourable” path by throwing decorum to the wind and lunched viral attacks on person and personality of Governor Matawalle with no iota of respect for his seat as the father of the state.

In doing so he deployed uncouth, crude and abusive language symptomatic of those low level maniacs unleashed at every opportunity as dogs of war.

But why will anyone be surprised at the action of this charlatan who forgot that his behavior could rob off on the integrity of the lower chamber he represents and taint the reputation of his colleagues in that reputable and respected institution? He is PDP member in the state after all and their stock in trade is to cause breach of peace in the state.

In the said press statement, Gummi went a rigmarole quoting the respected late social crusader, Martins Luther King and dancing around in circle.

From all his outing and vituperations, the only take away was the supposed arrest on Monday, November 28, of the party’s candidate for Zamfara central senatorial district, Alhaji Ikira Aliyu Bilbis by the police on charges of vandalism, which he claimed were trumped up.

In trying to elicit public sympathy to himself and co-travelers, he lumped the current issue with the earlier arrest of the Nigeria Union of Journalists chairman in the state but as usual, his effort failed to invoke the emotion and public outcry he had envisaged.

But let us even give him the benefit of the doubt and interrogate the issues his outing threw up. He has informed the public why Bilbis was arrested, but said the charges were “trumped up”. Really?

How did Gummi who is a lawmaker come about such a position over an issue that is before a court of law? Why is he in a hurry to clear the accused even before the court adjudicate on the matter.

The police even from Gummi’s statement did the needful by arresting Bilbis. They (police) did not hold him or keep him for long in their cell but charged him to court after their investigation.

The onus is therefore on the accused to exonerate and clear himself of the allegations.

The court even went ahead to grant him bail as Gummi testified in his statement. So why is it anybody’s fault if the accused failed to meet the bail condition? And because his associate failed to meet the stipulated condition to effect his release, Gummi is now accusing the judge and police of being tools in the hands of Matawalle in his alleged witch hunt of the opposition.

If a sitting governor is desirous in tackling an opponent who is clearly linked with a crime it would have been easy to clamp such person in police custody and claim that investigation is still ongoing as has been the case everywhere.

However, in this case, the police did not waste anytime in charging the accused to court where he is expected to defend himself. The court and its presiding judge should be commended for the expressway it granted the accused bail instead of being needlessly vilified like Gummi is doing.

His allegation that Matawalle was trying to muzzle the main opposition to whittle down their power and influence in the forthcoming elections is laughable because the PDP is not in reckoning and not a threat to APC in anyway.

He even went ahead to list those he thinks Matawalle will go after including the party’s governorship candidate, Lawal Dauda Dare. Waoo! Is this not absurd? Is Lawal Dare even in contention for the governorship race with all the court cases dangling over his head?

The so called governorship is still traumatized over his defeat at the federal high court, which nullified the primary that produced him and recently, the Appeal court.

It is fundamental to note that his ordeals were from his own very party and has nothing to do with Governor Matawalle. So it’s absurd to blame others for PDP’s misfortune and allege that anyone would hunt it’s candidates whose political future are uncertain.

And resorting to violence as a means to an end like the party and its members have been doing could only heighten the already tensed atmosphere which Matawalle has been working round-the -clock to manage.

The billboard saga wasn’t the only violent imprints the party has left on its route to 2023, a rally at its governorship candidate’s home had led to lost of Iives even as many were wounded. It’s sad that Gumi left out such important development from his statement.

As per the NUJ chairman which Gummi tried unsuccessfully to lump Bilbis case with to draw inspiration, he should have done the needful by telling the public the background of the affected person and the circumstances leading to such state of affairs to enable them appreciate and interrogate the issue based on its merit.

It’s imperative that Gummi calls a press conference or issue another statement to shedlight on the matter.

Having come from an honourable family, one would have thought Gumi will keep the legacy of the parental training we thought he received, unfortunately, even if he had such grooming as he was growing up, elements of bad politics and the fear of losing in the upcoming 2023 general elections have infuriated to throw away his sensibilities and turn disrespectful, dishonourable and regardless.

Certainly, with the overwhelming wind of mass support and mass mobilization going on in the APC, the likes of Gumi will not even be noticed when the electorate cast their votes to bring in APC at all levels in the coming elections.

As it were, rep Gummi achieved nothing by his recent desperate tactics. The PDP is doomed and irredeemable, and by 2023 the party will go into permanent extinction in Zamfara State.

Yusuf Idris Gusau
APC Publicity Secretary
Zamfara State
4th November, 2022

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FMR. ZAMFARA GOV. YARI CONDOLES SEN. WAMMAKO

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Former Governor of Zamfara State Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has paid a condolence visit to Sen. Aliyu Magatakarda WAMMAKO over the demise of his wife.

Yari who described the deceased as God-fearing and devoted Muslim who has offered much serving humanity.

He urged the husband and indeed the family to take solace and consider the exit of the deceased as a call to eternity.

He prayed for God almighty to grant her Jannatul Firdausi and blessed what she has left behind.

Sen. Aliyu Wammako thanked the former Governor and his entourage for the condolence visit and prayed for God almighty to bless them accordingly.T

he former Governor has among his entourage Amb. Abdulrahaman Buba Kwacham among many other prominent personalities.

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KAURA/BIRNIN MAGAJI FED. CONSTITUENCY: PDP MAY NOT PARTICIPATE IN 2023 ELECTION

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One of the aspirants for the post of Kaura Namoda/Birnin Magaji Federal House of Representatives under the people Democratic Party has called on the party to hasten the conduct of fresh primaries as ordered by the court or loss the chances of fielding candidate for the 2023 general election.

Ibrahim who stated this during a Press Conference on Thursday said since the court had nullified the election of Sani Dangaladima and ordered for the conduct of fresh one, it is high time for the PDP to hasten the conduct of the fresh primary before the party loses its chances of fielding candidate for that political post.

“if the fresh primaries is not conducted within the stipulated time frame as ordered by INEC the PDP may lose it all again for Kaura/Birnin Magaji Federal constituency.

He noted the court he instituted against the declaration of Sani Dangaladima has scaled through because the court is convinced that the election is marred by a lot of irregularities.

He raised the palpable fear the order of the court is about to expire and it seems the party is not ready to do the needful.

He accused some serving house of reps members namely Shehu Ahmad Sarkin Fulani, Engr. Sulaiman Gummi, Bello Hassan of frustrating the conduct of fresh primaries as instructed by the court.

He therefore appeal to the PDP to as a matter of urgency abide by the order of the court and conduct the fresh primaries accordingly

 

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