So I was invited to be a guest on #People’s #Parliament, an interactive programme on Planet 101.1 FM with a phone-in component. Planet FM is the pioneer private radio station in Akwa Ibom State.
Topic was the new Minimum Wage, the readiness or otherwise of the State Government to implement the new wage rate and the efforts so far made by the State Government to negotiate the consequential adjustment with Labour, bearing in mind an earlier pledge by His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel that Akwa Ibom will be the first state to pay whenever the Federal Government completes negotiations.
And I pushed the following facts to the public:
*Akwa Ibom State Government, going by FAAC allocation, is more than capable to pay above the N30,000 offered by the Federal Government.
*Akwa Ibom State has received an average of N20billion per month in 2019. I didn’t manufacture this. It was contained in the Governor’s Budget Speech submitted to the House of Assembly earlier in October.
*Some of the States that have paid above the Federal Government’s N30,000 are not as wealthy as Akwa Ibom. Kaduna State, for instance, has received only N5.6billion monthly for the same period.
*Yet Kaduna has 33,000 primary school teachers on its payroll. I mentioned that Lagos had 100,443 civil servants (as at 2017) and is paying N35,000 minimum wage. And I challenged Akwa Ibom Government to publish the number of civil servants in its employ.
*I mentioned that retired primary school teachers have lost hope of getting their gratuities. My mother is one of them so when Government says it is not owing retirees I know they are lying.
*I mentioned that Kaduna State has over 4,000 public primary schools while Akwa Ibom State has about 1,180. So what is it that shoots our overhead costs above those States with more public infrastructure to cater for than us?
*I mentioned that the N165.785billon which Akwa Ibom State received from January – August was more than the combined revenue of five States for the same period. Abia, Benue, Ekiti, Cross River and Kaduna altogether received N155.081billion less than what Akwa Ibom alone received.
*I argued that based on all these, AKSG should not wait to be prompted by the Labour movement before it can imitate Lagos State and pay more than N30,000 minimum wage.
*On the scandal of sacked 723 workers of the Unified Local Government System, I argued that the position of Government has holes in it. These workers underwent biometric data capture and were pay-rolled. On whose authorization were they pay-rolled if their recruitment did not follow due process?
*Instead of phoning in to participate in the discussion, they called the MD of the station to complain why an opposition party man would be brought in to feature on the programme.
*And now the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Udo has demanded to be featured on the programme tomorrow to debunk the “allegations”.
*So I’m asking, does it mean anytime someone is telling the truth he must be an opposition party man?
*So, the House of Assembly members that declared last week that 97% of roads constructed by the current administration are substandard are opposition legislators?
*So minimum wage is now a party issue? But why doesn’t AKSG just pay it so that opposition won’t have what to talk about anymore?