By Onome Oghenetega
A week after NIGER DELTA TODAY Online exclusively reported the suspension of the N30,000 new minimum wage for civil servants of grade level 7-17 by the Delta State Government, the Government has finally confirmed the report by this medium.
It also confirmed this medium’s report on 25 per cent pay cut for political appointees in the state including the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, his deputy, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro and other elected politicians in the state.
The Government confirmed on Friday that owing to the excruciating financial downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic the state has adopted interim fiscal measures to sustain public spending by the Okowa-led government.
It said the measure is aimed at helping the state navigating through this time financial difficulty globally particularly in Nigeria.
NIGER DELTA TODAY Online had exclusively reported that the state government and the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) struck an agreement for the suspension of the implementation of the minimum wage which came into effect in January.
The region’s most authoritative online medium also reported that the implementation of the new pay cut will take effect with the July salary.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, confirmed the development on Friday, saying the implementation of the salary review would commenced with July salary for the first six month for political appointees and workers.
Ebie spoke at a press conference in the state Head of Service office, Asaba, on Friday, noting that the decision to review workers salary was reached at a consultative meeting with the organized Labour in the state as reported in this medium’s exclusive report.
According to him, “You will recall that for the same reason of dwindling revenues caused by the debilitating ripples of the pandemic, the state government recently reviewed its 2020 budget downward by over N113 billion, representing more than a 28 per cent shrinkage of the original fiscal projections for the year.
“As we continue to grapple with the difficulties associated with servicing other existing and equally important obligations to citizens, we remain profoundly committed to infrastructural development across the state as can be seen from some of the projects that are still ongoing despite the pandemic and its suffocating impact on the economy.
“As a responsible government, the Okowa led administration is firmly committed to the welfare and interest of its workforce and citizens of the state.”
While stating that the Okowa-led government is particularly share the pains of affected workers and political appointees, he stressed that the decision was to keep the state moving and meets other obligation especially providing infrastructural development to residents.
“It has amply demonstrated this commitment by being one of the few states in the federation to have faithfully and fully implemented the new minimum wage which became operational in November, 2019.
YOU MAY ALSO READ: COVID-19: Delta Doctors To Embark On Three Days Warning Strike
“Therefore, the proposed wage review is a painful and difficult decision but inevitable in our current circumstances,” Ebie added.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Commissioners for Finance and Information, Sir Fidelis Tilije and Charles Aniagwu posited that the state government savings from the monthly allocation cannot upset its N7.7billion monthly wage bill.
Aniagwu said the state has a workforce of 48,000 hence the decision to review the salaries of workers in the interim.
He noted that the drop in oil production from 2.3 million barrels per day to 1.4 million and general decline in revenue had negatively affected the state economy, even as they sued for the cooperation of Deltans in navigating through this difficult season.
The State Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Martin Bolum who spoke on behalf of Labour, said the decision was one of the ways to keep the state afloat in this period of Coronavirus pandemic.
He said Delta was one of the first states to implement the new minimum wage, stressing that the present salary review was for a while.