By OSITA JULIUS NWORU
“We are duty bound to make our workers happy. We have looked at the computations from the office of the Accountant- General, what it means is that we will be paying about N1.9 billion on salaries of public officers monthly. That also includes subventions to hospitals, universities, College of Education and pensions.
“That is the position, assuming we are paying only for grade level 01 to 06. If we are going to pay those in grade level 07 to17, I will request you to give me a vehicle to move to Equatorial Guinea or you elect somebody else. In the alternative, we will be borrowing N100 million monthly to pay workers. There will be no money for any other thing.”
These are the words of Gov. Elechi when he addressed workers recently.
Fortunately, Security vote bank Plc has come to the rescue of the governor. They have offered to borrow 100million Naira monthly to the governor to pay the minimum wage to workers of Ebonyi. The governor may have applied to the department in charge of loan in the bank, and his application is being considered for possible positive response.
In the other hand, the bank requested that the governor should make available the state’s income and expenditure for the past 12 months, the list of workers in the state, salary scale/grade level and the total wage bill of the state workforce, as a condition he must meet to qualify for the loan.
Perusing the documents presented, the financial institution observed that the governor is indebted to the tune of 20billio Naira he borrowed not up a year ago. The bank wanted to know why the money was borrowed and what it was used for. The response the bank got was that the money was used for projects in the state.
Security vote bank plc is a cautious bank and wanted to be sure that any fund given out as loan is properly utilized. As a result, the loan department of the bank sent some of its staff to Ebonyi state to have a view of the ongoing and completed projects which the borrowed 20billion Naira was used on. The team came back with a shocking news – that no project mentioed in the loan application has been completed, and that some listed projects in the application are not in existence.
As experts, they suggested some sound economic policies to the governor which the governor should employ to generate money within to pay the minimum wage other than borrowing.
The team noted that the economic misfortune and retardation in the state is as a result of some fundamental economic mistakes that were made by the governor when he assumed office in 2007. The governor forgot that, ideally, founding fathers are not placed on salaries for making selfless service, instead, in recognition to their selfless service; they are named after streets, airports, Stadiums etc. .(unless he has no plans for any of such project) They are well respected in the state such that their words of advice are not taken for granted by the government and the people of the state.
Currently, the so called founding fathers in the state pockets over 20million as salaries every month. This implies that the state is applying retrogressive economic policies where people that make little or no contribution to the economic growth and development of the state receive more than the wage bill of more than two ministries in the state. The governor failed to take into account that the ever changing political and eviromental factors/ Population growth may affect some of his economic policies when he decided to recognize the founding fathers by way of salaries. Even the State house of Assembly as at that time raised no objection. They also failed to discern the future implication of the obnoxious policy.
The standard of living in the state no doubt is higher than it was before its creation some years ago. The state obviously has made appreciable gains in aggregate income, but most of the gains will continue to be eaten up by the increasing population of the state and abrasive economic policies enunciated and implemented by the governor.
The state presently produces nothing. There are no industries in the state and agriculture which the area was known for before its creation has been jettison for politics. Food production is on the decline while population tends to increase at more rapid rates. The result is prominent subsistence living among the people of the state, with population held in check by increase in social vices.
In a situation like workers strike in other states of Nigeria, founding fathers who are referred to as elder statesmen play the role of negotiating on behalf of the workers. The workers listen to them as they are highly respected persons. The founding fathers in Ebonyi state have no place in the situation at hand in the state. They should be better called un-founding fathers since they have nothing to show for what they claimed they found. They can’t even raise their head to make statement concerning the situation as they are executively bribed to keep silent in the face of injustice. What do they use the money they are paid to do? Is it not to marry more wives, chase around campus girls and possibly ask for chieftaincy titles. No responsible government gives less attention to the youths and working class of the economy who are the future of the state and the nation in general only to give immediate and adequate attention to what could be referred as dead woods.
The governor has threatened to scrap free education (if any exist), cancel pilgrim welfare, and introduce a multiple tax system. The so called founding father will fold their hands and watch these happen without altering a word since it does not concern them and as long as they get paid as at when do, it is to hell with the vulnerable. The founding fathers should as well ask for increase in their salaries or embark on strike to press for the increase. The state may witness that soon and probably become the first state where dead woods has gone on strike.
The advisory body of security vote bank plc also pointed out that, as a matter of urgency that the government should cut down the salaries of the so called founding fathers to about forty thousand naira a month. By so doing, some money would be raised to pay the minimum wage other than borrowing to pay. They also advised that the children of the governor should curtail their hotel expenses since one of his sons is believed to be spending close to 60million naira monthly on hotel bills across the states in Nigeria. In Enugu for example, he has suites in about five different hotels of very high standard. In one of the hotels located along chime avenue new haven Enugu, he has about 4 suites and the bills are offset from government purse. The hotel bills alone can take care of the controversial minimum wage.
In addition, revitalizing, the ailing industries in the state would help as well to generate money internally. This could be done through public-private partnership. Companies like Enyigba and Ezzangbo building materials industries can take the shape of public-private partnership (ppp). The government can also engage foreign partners in the area of mining to harness the assorted mineral resources that abound in the state.
The state should also look into developing sporting activities which appears dead now. Companies can be engaged to invest in the sports other than using our youths as political thugs as political rallies have replaced sporting activities in the state.
The state workers have no vehicle at the moment that would take the governor to Equatorial Guinea as the he requested in his address. The workers can’t be the ones to do that if the need arises. It is only fugitive that takes such a decision except the governor has become one, then the authorities should be notified to keep an eye on him lest he disappears. If the governor wants to make sacrifice for the state as he said in his address that he is duty bound to make workers happy, he should cut his unaccounted security vote, use it to pay workers other than borrowing which in turn would create harsh economic conditions for the vulnerable in the state . Alternatively the governor should honorably resign.