I never knew it has worsened to that extent, if not that I was affected indirectly. Just can’t believe my sight when I was approached by a complete strange man. I thought it was a joke not until the reality of the situation dawn on me. He was trailing me like a strayed dog looking for it’s owner. He was looking physically unsettled but with my look at him, he meant no harm. I summoned the courage to ask why he was following me and what he needed from me. Unlike what I initially thought, he preyed on my emotion when he pardonably said, “E ma binu pe mo n tele yin. O ju lo n timi. Edakun, osise SUBEB ni mi. Mo need 200 naira ni sir. Ogbon ni mo fi sa kuro fun omo ati iya won ni’le laaro yi faa. In ni sisi dipo kobo, k’ato wa ni l’era kan lowo. Esa ma pe ijoba o san owo osu wa. Eleyi ti won si tun san, kelekele noni. Ki Olohun lawa ni faa (Please don’t feel upset that I’m stalking you. It’s just that I’m feeling inhibited. Please, I’m a worker under SUBEB. Sir, I hope you can assist me with #200? I used stylishness to leave my wife and children at home in order to look out for money. As you can see, I’ve no kobo with me not to say 1 Naira. I’m quite sure you know government is not paying our salary as promptly as expected and the little one they paid is in percentage. It’s only God that can save us.)” Before he finished his excuses, I have already been overwhelmed with empathy. Though his action partially made him lost his innate worth of manhood but what option or alternative was he left with? He has thrown away his supposed moral trait because of what to eat and give to his wife and children respectively in order to be respected as a responsible husband and a caring parent before his family when he get home. He’s not lazy. He works but doesn’t get paid. It’s so unfortunate of him. Though I was able to put smile on his face by giving the little I could give to sustain him and his family for some days. But it doesn’t end there. There are many of his like (unpaid SUBEB workers and LG staffs) that are battling with hungers, sickness among others. I watched him leaving with prayers and fulfilment. Despite, I was left with rhetorics . . . “Is this how he will be wandering around, if he had not met with me and why are the SUBEB and LGs workers being owed despite the bail out funds, Paris refund and the monthly federal allocation accrued to every state nationally?”
Like we all had witnessed in the past, Local Governments are known for some remarkable progress in the provision of social amenities to the people in the areas of road construction, markets, electricity, water supply like provision of boreholes, health care facilities, refuse collection and disposal etc. But unfortunately, nothing of such again. The LG administration has been killed despite its closeness to the people of grassroots. LG has now been made handicapped because their sources of revenue like taxes, rates levied locally, licence fees, proceeds from hire and lease of Council properties, investments which include lands, markets, buildings have been taken over by the state government through KWIRS. I can now, unrepentantly, described the present LGs as “Motors without engine.” I wonder how a car can move without a functioning engine.
In my curiosity to know reason for nonpayment of salaries in the state, I engaged one Bolaji Raji who happened to be a former LG admin. I was astonished when he said, “If you research into FAAC Allocation to LGAS in Kwara since 2003, you will clearly see some deductions at source due to unnecessary loans obtained by the state government. Also the bonds accessed by Bukola (the incumbent Senate President of Nigeria) and also contribution by LGAS to the funding of e.g. Kwasu, Clean and green and a host of other state government programmes during Bukola’s regime.” Also, he added that “LGA funds were used to purchase shares at exorbitant prices up till today and no dividends accrue to the LGAS.” Every thing about the Bukola government was just a rip off through the manipulation of the local government accounts. Some banks were and are still involved. They always force the LGA chairmen to sign off sometimes half of their revenue and pay such into their private accounts.
During his tenure as a member of LG administration., he confidently said, “In my Oyun LGA where I was the Super for works, we established and built 2 secondary schools, built and staffed 10 community health centres, renovated primary schools and provided tables and chairs, extended the LGA secretariat with additional 20 offices, tarred township roads. Yearly, we used our grader to upgrade all rural roads in the 11 wards of Oyun. Provided monthly stipends for the old and needy. Established fish farm, demonstration farms, built culvert and drainages. With all the above programmes we were still paying salaries. Subeb is another drain pipe by the state to rip off LGAS of their statutory fund as the salary bill of primary school teachers is over bloated, the difference between actual and the over bloated is taken by the state instead of the Lgas. So much leakages.” What a fantastic revelation!
Funnily, the state government through Kwara Internal Revenue Service keep on raking billions of naira into the government coffers monthly and yet still, the salaries of workers remained unpaid but rather it’s rubbing Peter to pay Paul by using taxpayers money to buy exotic jeeps and cars worth milliions of naira to virtually all the Obas in the state and some selected musicians. This misplaced priority is tempting and a way of wasting our commonwealth. Despite the admonition that the State government should prioritise payment of teachers and council workers above execution of capital projects (especially non-revenue-yielding ones), what do we have than a government that counts the opinions of the masses as inconsequential. The government has forgotten that if the affected teachers who are presently undergoing pains of nonpayment of their salaries decided to absent themselves from school, It will have effects on our children going to primary and junior secondary schools respectively. The fact is most of the teachers are just going to school for going sake as they’ve lost the passion and zeal to imparting knowledge on the little children.
In my conclusion, the state government, should not be lording over the LG affairs but may, in order to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, probity and accountability in its smooth running should puts in place some measures of control which include:
Having a database and perform effective accreditation and biometrics of staffs of the local governments (this will allow the government to know the true existing numbers of local government workers that are entitle to earn wages and also wipe out ghost workers which had led to abnormal increase of the overall salaries of the workers).
Also, the ghost workers should be exorcised and those who are not productive should be laid off because the over bloaded numbers of workers are too much for the local government to cater for.
And the autonomy of Local Government should be well spelt out. We must know who to blame for the nonpayment of salary between the state and LGs. The State Government should stop taking charge of the responsibilities of the third tier of government which ought not to be.