The Osun State Government has appointed veteran Labour leader and one time Secretary General of the Organisation of African Trade Unions, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, as the chairman of the Committee of Government and Labour to oversee the allocation of the state’s revenue to prompt payment of salaries as well as adequate running of government.
Specifically, the Committee of Government and Labour is for apportionment of net revenue accruing from the Federation Account and Internally Generated revenue.
The satet Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, during the inauguration of the Committee at the Governor’s Office, stated that the Committee, in a transparent manner, will apportion all funds accruing to the State Government to take care of salaries, pensions and other critical expenditure of government.
Aregbesola said the birth of a committee was long overdue having suggested the idea in the wake of the clamour for minimum wage which pitched workers against their state governments.
The 17-man Committee is made up of representatives of the government and workers.
Members of the Committee are the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Comrade Jacob Adekomi; Chairman, Joint Negotiating Council Comrade Bayo Adejumo; Chairman of the Nigerian Union Teachers, Comrade Wakeel Amuda; Comrade Rufus Adeyemi; Comrade Oluwatoyin Idowu; Comrade A. Afolabi; Comrade Gbenga Oyebode; and Comrade Akeem Ibrahim.
Others are Chief of staff to the Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola; former Group Managing Director of Oodua Investment, Bayo Jimoh; former Commissioner for Information, Sunday Akere; Managing Director, Osun Investment Company, Bola Oyebamiji; Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance, Local Government and Chieftaincy titles and that of Human Resources and Capacity Building.
Aregbesola pointed out that the financial tsunami that swept through the federation, beginning from July 2013, and ravaged the entire country crippled the finances of states and the Federal Government, making payment of salaries very difficult.
According to him: “What many do not realise was that the governmental system of the whole country was under mortal threat, and not only Osun.
“It might interest us to know that the government of Goodluck Jonathan, according to his Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had to borrow N476 billion from commercial banks to be able to pay salaries in the last four months of the administration.
“Thank God for His mercies. If God had not heard our prayers and came to our rescue with the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, the entire Nigerian government at all levels was dangerously racing towards bankruptcy.”
The governor noted that all warnings to the realities of the Nigerian economy were ignored, adding that those who should know also cried out but were ignored.
Aregbesola said: “This should not surprise anyone. The then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (now the Emir of Kano) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had alleged that over $40 billion oil sales was not remitted into the Federation Accounts.
“That was when oil was selling for over $100 per barrel. This tragedy was compounded with the eventual fall in oil price to circa $40. We now know where the money went.”
The governor stressed that the present situation of government calls for toughness, saying his administration will critically look at the next 24 months to take the state through the stormy weather.
Aregbesola called on workers to be prepared for a more efficient service rendering period by changing their attitude from seeing government job as social security but a profitable venture.
He said, “We must be business-minded. The positive impact of every agency of government must be felt in its own area of assignment and responsibility.
“In education, your products must be found to be worthy in learning and character. In healthcare, your work must be reflected in a healthy citizenry. In agriculture, it must be in indisputable food security and banishment of hunger.
“There must be real works to show for public works. The time has come for us to start measuring performance. We must also do away with a bloated workforce, eliminate laziness and redundancy, block all avenues for embezzlement and leakages and make government work.”
The governor admonished people of the state on the need to pay tax so that government will be able to pay salaries, run government and develop the state.
He said the allocation received from Abuja should be a sort of legacy fund tied to specific legacy projects that would make life better for the people and not funds to be expended anyhow.
Sunmonu, also a former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, in his remarks attributed the financial crisis to fate, saying when things happened the way it has happened to Osun State and Nigeria, it only demonstrated that a divine being is directing the affairs of men.
He thanked the governor for setting the labour/government committee up as it will assist the parties in working harmoniously to find a lasting solution to the salaries hiccups.
Sunmonu stated that the welfare of workers and the people of the state was the major objective of setting up the committee, adding that the committee will work tirelessly to make sure everything comes to success.
He said: “When things happen the way it has happened in Nigeria and our state, it shows us that there is a divine being that is directing human affairs.
“Welfare of the people is the major objective why this committee is set up.
“We are not perfect.
“We don’t have all the answers to the problems but we pledge, God helps us, that we will do the work to the best of our ability without any rancour.
“We will not ask anybody to use basket to fetch water in a drum.
“We need to block all the leakages for the revenue accruing to the state to increase significantly.
“We must swim together to make this state work, to make an exemplar of progress, harmony, growth and development.
“So, we must indeed thank the governor for setting up this committee to assist all of us in finding lasting solution to the financial challenges facing the state.”