THE NLC, TUC and medical staff in Nasarawa State have now been on strike for more than a week. The state has yet to implement the consequential increments and the minimum wage for local government workers. In addition, promotions have not been implemented for over a decade, annual increments have not been paid and salary arrears for August 2016 have yet to be paid.
This is not due to lack of money, but a choice by the Governor to spend money on his priorities rather than workers’ salaries. In the month before the strike, the Governor presented 25 brand new SUVs to the first-class traditional rulers in the state, valued at over N800 million. The council of traditional chiefs then appealed for the strike to be postponed – and it was put back by a week!
In addition, the State is demanding that whenever the monthly federal allocation is less than N4 billion, the government would revert to old salary scales. This was the case on average throughout 2020. In addition, for each of the months from January to March of this year the FAAC allocations to Nasarawa State were less than N4 billion. So this clause means that the agreed promotions would not be paid unless the FAAC allocations were significantly above recent monthly figures.
The international price of crude oil is now above $75 a barrel its highest level for three years. This is 88% above the benchmark price for Nasarawa State that was set at $40 for their 2021 budgets. In addition, the naira was devalued again in mid-May. This means that the FAAC allocations are another 8.5% higher than they would have been in naira terms.
The State Governor is choosing to spend money on contracts rather than paying salaries. Governors get their 10% or more cut from contacts. They do not gain personally from paying their workers their due salaries.
Nearly half of this years’ budget is to be spent on capital. Last year N20 billion was spent on capital projects whilst only N16 billion was spent on salaries. This year the capital budget was agreed to be doubled from around N25 billion to nearly N50 billion. This would be two and a half times the actual capital spend for last year.
Personnel costs are expected to increase from around N16 billion to N28 billion to take account of implementation of the minimum wage and the backlog of promotions. But this will still only amount to a quarter of the annual spending by the State. The increased salary costs are only a little over half the expected increase in Federal allocations for this year.
Being a reaction by Drew Povey to the story: “Minimum Wage: Nasarawa Workers Continue Strike as Labour, Govt Disagree.” He sent in his commentary from Abuja.