The implementation of minimum wage (Salary) as signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari jI in April 2019,has continued to give moist states across the nation sleepless nights as they struggle to pay their respective civiloool servants the mandatory N30,000:00 take home pay per month.
Bauchi, being one of the 36 states in Nigeria, is not left out of the quagmire. The state, before the new salary structure, according to Gov. Sen.Bala Mohammed, was expending over N7 billion per month on its workforce.
Gov.Bala Mohammed who ruled the Federal Capital Territory for 6 straight years,inherited the large wage bill from his predecessor Barr.Mohammed Abubakar.
A figure that its accuracy was was doubtful
,at the time of this report,is not yet ascertained by the new administration in the state.
This situation,has compelled Bauchi government to set up a Verification Committee headed by a one time Head of Civil Service,Commissioner for Education,and a seasoned administrator,Sen.Ibrahim Adamu Gumba,to screen and establish the dependability and accuracy of the state’s number of civil servants,and its local government councils respectively.
Though,the report of the Verification Committee is yet to be presented to the government,on January 1,2020,the Governor,approved the payment of the N30,000,with effect from day one of January 2020.
The approval favors those on salary grade levels 1-7. A position that one wonders how salaries and wages of the state would be adhered to, as at when due. One also imagines how much the state is going to expend per month on its workforce.
With the benefit of hindsight, the concern Gov.Bala Mohammed has being expressing over the outrageous amount expended on salaries and wages, competes head to head with other developmental projects and programmes, vis avis income from the federation allocation.And,of course,its internally generated revenue, is a possible difficult circumstance.
The Bauchi people and Nigerians are, however, calmly watching how the battle of Minimum Wage would be won or settled.
The unfolding scenario is not new to Nigerians. When the federal government introduced the N18,000 minimum salary package a couple of years ago, many state governors were unable to pay their civil servants.
And up to date, some have either deliberately refused to, or are unable to pay. Sadly, the federal government with deliberate? weak political will, has not been able to query any state, in spite of several bail-outs.
While we are conscious of some steps taken by federal government, to rescue the 774 local governments, via the increase in Value Added Tax(VAT) and other executive measures to sustain the autonomy of the third tier, the situation appears to be rather uncertain.
Bauchi state, and its economic peculiarity, among its peers, will be another wonder on how increase in salary will stimulate its micro-economic stability.
The state, currently, is a shelter belt to Internally Displaced Persons in their millions from neighbouring states in the northeast of Nigeria. It has over 1.3 million out of school children, 4 million unemployed youth, servicing about N150 billion debts, unpaid pension and gratuity of about N12 billion Naira, deplorable infrastructure in almost all sectors of its economy including schools,among other contending challenges.
The questions on the lips of many is, what is the practical reality of the salary increase and the survival of the state?
Is it not suicidal for the state not to cut its coat according to its size. Why imitate others with more viable sources of income,besides statutory allocation?
But then, time will tell,since we are at the “next level”.
Austine Tsenzughul is a Bauchi based Public Affairs Observer.