By Tayo Joseph Lagos, Nigeria
The Oyo State Government has observed with dismay a news report with the headline, “Kogi, Abia, Oyo among six states that ‘haven’t paid workers in 2017’ in The Cableng, a news medium which is well respected by the Oyo State Government as we consider the medium a reliable and credible source of information which has earned its pedigree from professional conduct and due diligence in its reporting.
We are however shocked that a medium of such repute will publish a story stating that Oyo state is one of the states that has not paid salaries this year based on a survey by a civic tech company called BudgIT.
The quoted survey is faulty in its findings with a wide error margin given the facts on the ground in relation to Oyo State casting serious doubts on the authenticity of the report. The methodology and approach of such a survey is questionable as the result is not in tandem with facts. While it is understandable the report was sourced from another reputable organization, BudgIT, we believe that The Cableng should have gone a step further to ascertain the veracity of the report before going to press based on our belief that the “gates” in the journalism profession should have helped in preventing this half-truth report.
We categorically state that the quoted survey report is a fallacy as Oyo state has indeed paid salaries this year and there are facts and figures to prove this. We do not know how BudgIT conducted its survey but it seems to be among inappropriate population and sample size which obviously led the way to a high error margin.
This year, the Oyo State Government has paid salaries, including the pensions of retirees. It is therefore not only untrue but quite misleading to claim or quote anything to the counter. For the records and to put the issue in proper perspective, Oyo State Government has fully paid its state workers and pensioners January and February 2017 salaries and pensions. Also, the Governor of the State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi announced at a media interactive session on May 29, 2017 that he has approved payment of the salaries for the month of March.
Furthermore, the state government announced on May 19, 2017 that N2bn was released to clear some outstanding salaries of the local government workers and its pensioners after paying two months salaries for three consecutive months, December, January and February, in a bid to reduce the outstanding salary profile.
All these information were released to the public not for publicity sake but to keep the records straight and forestall such a report as the one in question. It should also be noted that this information was also sent to TheCableng via the email: [email protected] and [email protected] at that period as we do to all our press statements. The reports can also be sourced online and an in – depth investigation can be conducted to ascertain the true position of salary payment in the state. Top functionaries in the state are also always available for clarifications on all government activities and policies including the payment of salaries.
At the moment, the government owes the state workers three months salaries, March, April and May, out of which the one for the month of March has been approved by Governor Ajimobi. However, the local government workers are owed between four to 10months, out of which N2bn was released recently.
On May 1 2017, the leadership of the state NLC commended Governor Abiola Ajimobi for his commitment to clearing salaries backlog. In like manner, the Oyo State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council also attested to the government’s commitment to clearing the backlog of salaries vide a letter dated April 4, 2017, signed by its State Chairman and Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran and Comrade Dupe Adewoye respectively, where it commended Governor Abiola Ajimobi for the continuous payment of salaries and pensions in the state.
“The leadership of the PSJNC and the entire workers in Oyo State are grateful to Your Excellency for continuous payment of salaries and pensions in the State. We wish to acknowledge, without reservation this continuous payment and we are, therefore, using this medium to express our profound gratitude for keeping faith with workers in the State,” they stated.
While we appreciate TheCableng and BudgIT for their social responsibility to the society, we urge them to always verify and seek clarifications on issues before giving information in order not to mislead the public. The Sen. Abiola Ajimobi led administration in Oyo State has stated on many occasions its resolve to clear the outstanding salaries and expressed its commitment to the welfare of the people of the state especially its workers; the evidence of which is the reduction of total average outstanding payments from 7 months to 3 months as at June 1st 2017.