Government workers in Ekiti State have appealed to Governor Ayo Fayose to accord priorities to the payment of backlog of salary arrears owed them rather than giving their children Christmas clothes.
They expressed regrets that many of them are dying of hunger while others who are afflicted with debilitating ailments and lack money to access quality healthcare delivery.
Acting under the aegis of the Enlightened Workers’ Forum (EWF), they welcomed the directive from the Presidency that governors should clear all arrears owed workers before Christmas.
In a press statement made available to The Nation on Friday, EWF Coordinator, Mike Bamidele, criticized the decision of the governor to provide free Christmas clothes to 20,000 children in the state.
Describing the Free Xmas Clothes for Kids project as a “misplaced priority,” Bamidele said workers’ salaries should remain the governors’ priority rather than “unnecessary grandstanding and splurge on frivolities.”
Bamidele said hunger occasioned by the non-payment of salaries has unleashed hardship on workers some of whom, he said are dying of hunger and ailments the can’t treat.
He said: “We are still at a loss why the governor still owes core civil servants five months arrears, workers in institutions on subventions seven months and local government workers and primary school teachers nine months.
“Rather than making sincere and concrete efforts to pay our salaries, the governor is busy distributing Christmas clothes for 20,000 children.
“If he pays their parents regularly, it will be easy for them to buy clothes for their children. It is not the business of government to be buying Christmas clothes for children and this has turned Ekiti to a laughing stock.
“Offering to buy Christmas clothes for children when salaries are not paid is an attempt to play politics with the poverty of the people and turn the innocent kids to pawns on the political chess board.
“We reject this Christmas Clothes for Children project in its entirety; all we need are our salaries and allowances. Let the governor look for means to pay them so that we can have relief.
“A labourer deserves his wages and the sweat of his labour must not dry on his forehead. We have worked for this money, it is our right and not privilege, the governor must pay our salaries.
“We are also using this medium to call on the Federal Government to investigate how bailout funds, Paris Club refunds, Budget Support Funds sent to Ekiti State were spent.
“We believe if these monies are deployed to payment of workers, all these arrears would have been offset by now.”