By Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has announced fifty per cent pay cut for all senior political appointees in his cabinet.
This is as the Governor also assures workers in the state of his commitment to the payment of salaries on the 25th of every month.
Governor Makinde made the disclosures on Friday while addressing top labour leaders in the state at a low key event to commemorate the 2020 International Workers Day.
The event which held at Labour House, American Quarters, Ibadan was attended by top government functionaries and top labour leaders in the state.
While noting that the next couple of months would be difficult, especially in the face of hardship occasioned by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Governor Makinde assures that his government is working hard to mitigate the shocks to the state economy.
He noted that he had also gotten the cooperation of the state lawmakers to cut their salaries by 30 percent, adding that the state will find its out of the economic meltdown.
He reiterated that his administration has also approved the second phase of the light up Oyo project to improve the infrastructure of the state.
He said, “When I was taking over the affairs of government on May 29, 2019, I never envisaged that our first Worker’s Day celebration would happen without the usual pomp.
“No one would have thought at that time, that in just about a year, the world would be thrown into confusion as they struggle to understand a new strain of the coronavirus disease. But as the saying goes, “you have to take the bad with the good.”
“Let me start by commending every worker in Oyo State as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just the health workers who are leading the charge and risking daily exposure to this disease, but the volunteers from various sectors who are working in little ways and big ways to ensure that we prevent, contain and control the spread of COVID-19 in our state.
“The next couple of months are going to be difficult ones, but we are working hard to mitigate the shocks to our economy. Already, we have secured the cooperation of the legislature to take a 30% cut to their monthly allocations, while senior government appointees take 50% pay cuts. This is because we feel that the economic safety of the workforce must be prioritised.
“We must on this day, appreciate the efforts of those who have taken pay cuts so that others may be catered for. I am happy that under this administration, the wellbeing of the common man takes precedence. I give you my word; we will continue to put in the work needed to ensure that you are never paid with ‘bear with us at the end of any month.
“We salute the workers who have had to sacrifice their earnings at this time, those whose businesses have been affected by the partial lockdown in Oyo State. Private schools cannot operate at this time. Event planners are also badly hit; you can’t run your operations when there are no gatherings.
“Night clubs have lost income; the curfews seem to be targeted at your business. Cinemas are facing huge losses. Transporters are taking cuts; they have been directed to operate at 60% capacity. The principles of social distancing have also affected the income of many more businesses and individuals who rely on their daily income. Many of you have lost your jobs.
But as our people say, ” Ilé ọba t’ójó, ẹwà ló bùsi.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has struck. It is now the responsibility of us all to build something out of this pandemic that will make generations to come proud.
“Post COVID-19, we will be left with an economy which must be grown and sustained. This is why I ran for governor, for a time like this. I will make the tough decisions so that our economy can thrive.
“We want to get our economy back on track. This is why we have started opening up the system while keeping an eye on the reports from the Oyo State COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre.
“I remember, during my inaugural speech, I had asked for your patience because we could not pay the newly introduced minimum wage. I promised that we would pay, but that you should give us a little time. You did. And we did not let you down.
“Less than ten months later, we not only approved the payment of the new minimum wage, we paid the backlog from January 2020. And by the grace of God, we will keep paying it. The 25th of every month will remain the date when you receive your salaries every month.
“We approved the second phase of the light up Oyo project. It is at least a N29 billion project and we have set up a committee.
“The Secretary to the State Government and two others are to ensure they work with the contractor and see that pole fabrication and others are done locally. This is to ensure that certain amount of that money is spent in Oyo state. It is the only way to ensure benefits of enhanced economy get to the street level.”
In their separate remarks at the event, the trio of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), warned employers against using the covid-19 pandemic as excuse for the stoppage and reduction of workers’ salaries.
Speaking, Oyo state NLC chairman, Comrade Adebayo Titilola-Sodo, said the Union will not accept a reduction in the salaries of the Oyo state workers, adding that the labour leaders believe that Governor Makinde will not join those planning to execute pay cut for workers.
Also speaking, the Oyo state TUC chairman, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran, said in this difficult times, Labour leaders expect the government not to focus on profit but on sustaining livelihood of people such that all will survive the pandemic.
On his part, the Secretary, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oyo state chapter, Comrade Olusegun Abatan, urged all affiliate unions and state branches to resist any deduction in salary.
The high point of the event was the presentation of the award of ‘Labour Friendly Governor’ on Makinde.