It was a disappointing weekend for workers in Ekiti State as the state government on Thursday withdrew two months’ salaries already paid into their bank accounts. This was as teachers in the state declared a two-day warning strike over the refusal of Governor Ayodele Fayose to pay their September 2014 salary arrears and 2014 leave bonuses.
The state chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Samuel Akosile, told our correspondent that the union would consider the next step to take at the expiration of the warning strike beginning today (Monday). Workers, mainly civil servants in the state had last week received alerts from their banks that their salaries for November and December 2015 had been paid into their accounts.
The workers were, however, in for a shock as the salaries were quietly withdrawn from their accounts without reasons from the banks.
Expressing his frustration to our correspondent, a civil servant who simply identified himself as Akindele, said, “I had gone to the bank on Friday to withdraw money from the Automated Teller Machine but was disappointed when there was no money in my account. On enquiry, I was told that the government had instructed banks to recall payment.” But the government has blamed the error on the service providers.
Speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi, said the government had no intention to embarrass any worker, adding that the issue was being looked into. “The error is from the service provider and it has been rectified,” he said. But many workers had gone to the bank to withdraw the money before the government could start removing the money from their accounts.
Ogunsuyi, however, added that the government was looking into the case of those who might have withdrawn their money and “appropriate action would be taken after due consideration.” However, the All Progressives Congress, has slammed Fayose for crediting workers’ accounts with their salaries only to withdraw the money after “a heavy media hype.”
The party in a statement on Sunday by the state Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, accused the governor of fraudulent conduct to sustain his grip on the “thoroughly abused” people of Ekiti people.
He said, “This is not the first time the governor is doing this to workers. He did it to primary school teachers last year when he learnt that they were to embark on a strike. That is what he did last week after learning of the strike plan by teachers after they refused to help him in a solidarity rally to save him from Ekitigate probe.”
“The governor that said the state was broke suddenly paid two months’ salaries after learning that the teachers were bent on embarking on a protest over his failure to pay their salary arrears, even though he quickly reversed a month salary from their accounts after workers were celebrating payment of two months arrears.”
But debunking the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to Fayose, Idowu Adelusi, in a statement said labour had not been kept in the dark in the running of the government. He blamed former governor Kayode Fayemi for the inability to pay workers.
“Is it not the mess left behind by the Fayemi’s administration that is causing problem for Fayose’s government? Nine hundred and fifty million naira is deducted monthly by those who Fayemi administration took loan from. If N950m is added to N1.3bn that came last month, it will go a long way for Fayose administration to meet financial obligations,” Adelusi said.