The Kwara State Government says it is doing everything in its power to find a sustainable solution to the salary crisis in the state.
Dr. Muyideen Akorede, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State on Media and Communications, stated made this known in a statement released in Ilorin.
The statement was issued in the wake of a call by the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union on the state government to prioritise the payment of salary arrears to teachers, local government workers and others.
Akorede said the inability of the state government to pay salaries was caused by the huge drop in Federal Allocation to all tiers of government in the country.
He also said the inability of the institutions to raise their share of the internally generated revenue to augment the Federal Government subvention as earlier agreed, contributed to the non-payment of the salaries.
“Nevertheless, the government has commenced the process of remedying the situation with the payment of five month’s arrears to workers in the College of Arabic and Islamic Studies Ilorin,” the statement said.
Akorede said government released N50 million to the Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin last week and that the balance of N17 million would be released soon.
According to the statement, the remaining tertiary institutions in the state will be paid in the due course and as funds become available.
The state government explained that the drop in allocation to the local government by more than 50 per cent, rather than the operation of the statutory Joint Accounts allocation Committee, was responsible for salary arrears at the local government councils.
The government also assured IEDPU that it was already working on its recommendation to focus on agriculture and solid minerals development for diversifying the state’s economy.
It stressed, however, that these measures were long term and could not be relied on to solve the current problems bedevilling all tiers of government in the country.
The governor’s aide restated Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s commitment to ending the salary payment problem in the state.
Akorede also restated the governor’s commitment to the ongoing verification of staff and prioritisation of basic education teachers’ salaries in the distribution of local government allocation.
The IEDPU had on Sunday urged the Kwara State Government to prioritise the payment of salary arrears to teachers, local government workers and others.
The National President of the Union, Alhaji AbdulHameed Adi, made the call while addressing a news conference in llorin on Sunday.
Adi said the call became necessary after Governor Ahmed said the payment of school teachers and local government employees was the responsibility of the local councils.
He said the non-payment of teachers’ salaries for about seven months had adversely affected primary and junior secondary schools in the state.
The national president of the union, therefore, urged the Kwara State Government to put on hold all non-revenue-yielding capital projects to enable it to clear workers’ salary arrears.
He described the condition of teachers and other unpaid workers as sad.
He said: “No capital project is far more important than the education of our children.
“Government ought to be worried that teachers in Basic Schools are not paid salaries.”
Adi also urged the governor to personally show concern for the staff of primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions, parastatals, and local government councils.
The national president of the union also pleaded with the government to rescind its decision on making state-owned tertiary institutions to use their internally generated revenue to run their affairs.
Adi said: “The institutions are government-owned and they cannot afford to charge fees as private proprietors can.
“After all, education is a social service that should be provided by the government.”
Adi also urged the state government to restore the monthly subvention to its tertiary institutions.
He criticised the idea of a joint state and local government account, saying it had crippled development at the grassroots.
Workers in the 16 local government councils in the state are currently on strike over unpaid salaries.
Similarly, academic activities in basic schools and tertiary institutions have been halted over the same issues.