If there is anything that Oyo state government and its counterparts in Osun and other parts of the country successfully did, it is the present unattractive nature of civil service. Unlike before when getting government job was the dream of almost all fresh graduates, only those that can’t get jobs elsewhere are still interested in the civil service. Furthermore, the gbanko way that the government of Oyo state is handling the case of owed salaries is a perfect example of why the future of civil service is very bleak in Nigeria.
On Sunday, I saw a rather shocking headline on Bella Naija. According to the report, the government of Oyo state urged unpaid workers in the state to apologize to Governor Ajimobi and stop being “insensitive and confrontational”.
According to a statement by Alhaji Ismael Alli, a former Secretary to the government of Oyo state who is also the leader of the government’s delegation in the negotiation with the leaders of the workers in the state, the labour leaders were advised to embrace dialogue and consultation instead of issuing threats and ultimatum of strike. As stakeholders, the leader of the government’s negotiation team said labour leaders should brainstorm on how to bail the state out of its financial predicament.
Sometimes when I read stories like this, I try to figure out what goes on in the minds of those writing them? I ponder on the extent to which the person that developed the idea, the person that typed it, and the person that signed it are far away from the rest of the sane world or how in God’s sake would you be asking workers to be apologizing to a state governor that is yet to pay owed salaries? The word on the street is that the governor that is owing them is the same person whose daughter had a very elaborate (and expensive) wedding recently even though many families are hungry in the state he governs. So who is being insensitive?
It is really sad that Nigeria still has leaders that think they are doing the citizens favor when they pay salaries. No you are not, you are just paying them for the works they did. Let me break it down in simpler terms.
When you go to Shoprite Dugbe to buy stuffs and you pay after picking up the item loaded in your cart, do you think you did the cashier any favors because he or she thanked you? No you really didn’t since you only paid for what you picked up. It is called buying and selling. When someone mows your lawn and you pay the person afterwards, is it a favor? No, you simply paid him for the service rendered. The same rule applies here.
As a matter of fact, a truly sensitive government should be the one apologizing to – and begging its workers when their salaries are not paid as at when due. Oyo state workers are being owed for months but the government is obviously not being sensitive about it. Instead, it is striving to gag the workers, compel them to bow to the supreme leader who is accused of rubbing his wealth and affluence in the lean faces of workers on weekends at big weddings and foreign trips like the one to Ireland in the name of searching for investments.
Truth be told, civil servants in Nigeria, especially Oyo state, have really suffered and they are struggling to survive in the absence of a steady salary. I receive messages from them constantly. On the other hand, I also understand that the economy of the state is not vibrant enough and the governor cannot be paying salaries with his personal money. But I strongly believe that If the economy of the state is truly bad and money is not available, the reasonable thing a sensitive government would do is to apologise, be sensitive and come up with ways to make lives better for the workers under you.
Whether or not the civil servants voted for the governor during the last election, they are workers in the state government and they deserve to be paid irrespective of their political affiliation. If it is not possible to do that, they shouldn’t be made to regret their class in the community. Everyone deserves respect, everyone deserves attention. Every worker deserves to be paid on time. That’s the commonsense thing to do. But where is commonsense in Oyo state?