From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
In some states across the country, no doubt that the May Day celebration was done on a low-key in some states, considering several agitations of workers ranging from non-payment of salaries for many months, plight of pensioners who hardly receive their monthly stipend, delay in promotion, arbitrary sack of civil servants to little or no welfare packages to boost the morale of civil servants. The case of Kano, however, was different and unique as thousands of members of the organized labour, Nigeria Labour Congress, trade unions, including workers in the private sector gathered at the Sani Abacha stadium, adorned in different colours to celebrate the May Day and the kind gesture of the state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to workers in the state.
Ganduje who stood for almost two hours taking salute from dozens of workersa�� union from different organizations, factories and government ministries and parastatals, recalled with pride that the celebration of May Day in Nigeria was first observed in 1980 by Kano state government, under the then first civilian governor of the state, the late Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, and was later adopted by the Federal Government as a national holiday for all the workers in Nigeria in recognition of their valuable contribution for socio-economic development of the country.
He further noted that, a�?today, we are celebrating the Workersa�� Day in a very critical and challenging moment as the nation is just recovering from economic recession, dwindling earnings alongside escalating cost of governance which has adversely affected many states ability in fulfilling their primary obligations, prominent among which is the payment of monthly salaries to workers, even though here in Kano state, we have been able to fulfill such commitment at and as when due.a�?
Ganduje also used the opportunity to list some of his landmark achievements and policies as regards to the welfare of workers in the state to include sustaining of prompt of monthly salaries to Civil Servants and public officers to the tune of N9.2 billion since inception of the administration; payment of contract gratuity to the tune of N54, 360, 479.00 to contract officers; payment of Bereaved Family Allowance (BFA) to the tune of N45, 010, 000.00 to the families of deceased Civil Servants; formalizing the appointment of 5, 518 casual/temporary workers inherited from the immediate-past administration under KSSSMB, HMB, and Corporate Security with an aggregate monthly wage bill of N83, 497, 101.22; sustaining of promotion/advancement of staff across all cadres in the state Civil Service, and implementing annual salary increment.
Gandujea��s government has also ensured facilitating of staff training and manpower development for which an aggregate sum of N380, 722, 415.96 has so far been expended; implementation of stagnated promotion of primary school teachers inherited from previous administration (2013-2016) with a monthly augmentation of N578.6 million; employment/recruitment of 5, 088 personnel consisting of healthcare workers, sanitation vanguard, tax personnel, KAROTA and Science and Technical Schools Board employees; elevation of the status of principals of premier secondary schools in the state to the rank of substantive Directors; construction/renovation of road network and water supply infrastructure in Audu Bako secretariat, as well as office renovations across MDAs in order to provide a conducive working environment for workers; successful introduction of promotion examination for Civil Servants from GL07 to 15 with a view to entrenching principles of meritocracy in career progression, similarly, a computer based examination has been introduced into this with more Civil Servants opting for the Computer-based test, which is a clear testimony of the positive impact of governmenta��s sponsored ICT training for Civil Servants; approval for the construction of a befitting Manpower Development Institute under the Office of the Head of Civil Service to serve as a capacity building hub for all civil servants and public officers; introduction of contributory healthcare scheme to foster easy access to effective healthcare services by Civil Servants; embracing the initiative on Open Government Partnership (OPG) where Government (through MDAs) citizens and development partners (DFID, SLOGOR, World Bank/EU) collaborate in budgeting process, access to justice, service delivery, anti corruption, among others, towards entrenching transparency, accountability, and prudence in the public service; abolishing of dichotomy between degree and HND holders; abolishing of Tenure Policy for Permanent Secretaries and Directors, DPMs in the state and Local Government services; sustaining industrial peace in the state as a result of cordial relationship between government and labour unions. More so, the Gandujea��s administration has so far supported labour unions with over N39, 775, 000.00 towards facilitating their activities, including allocation of vehicles.
Ganduje also used the occasion to declare support for Nigerian workers agitation for N18, 000 minimum wage increment, saying the demand is legitimate considering the present day economic realities in the country. According to him, his administration has submitted a memo/position paper to the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage constituted by the presidency supporting the salary increase of Nigerian workers.
He added that, a�?mindful of the persistent agitation by the organized labour/NLC for the review of the current national minimum wage of N18, 000, which we, indeed, believe is legitimate, arising from our deep concern for workersa�� welfare, and cognizance of the inconvenient truth that the existing workers earnings, especially, those at the lower segment is no longer realistic. a�?The Kano state government has already submitted a memo/position paper to the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum wage constituted by the presidency supporting the salary increase of the national minimum wage of workers.a�?
He, however, urged various organized labour unions to be mindful of the financial situation in the country while making their demands, insisting that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) governments at the state levels remain committed to the welfare of workers and all Nigerians. a�?Your peculiarities while pursuing your demands should be reasonable, affordable, and implementable consensus that could be reached at the end of the negotiations,a�? he noted. Ganduje also stated that his administration has settled the outstanding payments of pensioners in the state from 2015 to date with the total sum of N12 Billion, adding that, he would continue to encourage workers for the overall development of the state.
Also speaking at the elaborate ceremony, the state NLC chairman Comrade Kabiru Ado Minjibir, commended Ganduje for his labour-friendly disposition to Kano workers, adding that, “we have observed with a unique sense of responsibility, the rare commitment you have exhibited in the conduct of the affairs of this state.a�? He further stated that, “our strategy of adopting the principles of dialogue and constructive engagement with the state government, has also resulted in the steady payment of salary, which is the primary right of the workers in the state.”
a�?To guarantee the comfort of the worker after retirement, the Congress has successfully pursued the approval of our Four Billion Naira (N4B), by His Excellency from the Paris Club Refund that was received by the state government. Out of which Two Billion, Five Hundred Naira (N2.5B) have been released and paid to the beneficiaries accordingly. We want use this opportunity to strongly call on His Excellency to kindly direct for the release of the balance of One Billion, Five Hundred Million (N1.5B), to continue with the payment,” he stated.