Osun State civil servants on Tuesday trooped to the streets of Osogbo, the state capital, to protest non-payment of their four-month salary.
The government is owing civil servants in the state November, December, January and February salary.
The workers, in their hundreds, led by the Chairman of Senior Staff Association, Comrade Olatunji Akinyemi, were demanding for their salary arrears from Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s led administration.
The aggrieved workers who carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Aregbesola should pay our backlog arrears of salaries,” Aregbesola must go,” Aregbesola is not workers-friendly, Give us our money as we are suffering in silence and Enough is enough for Osun government” among others, said they were tired of government maltreatment.
In a chat with newsmen, Akinyemi said the workers had been pushed to the wall by the state government to take the action, stressing that his members had been facing untold hardship since last year.
According to him: “One of the workers, an asthmatic patient, died about two weeks ago because he could not afford to buy just an inhaler.
We are facing a pathetic situation here in Osun.” There has been no sympathy from the government over the deceased. Rather, they are threatening us with suspension letters,” he added.
Akinyemi, who also flayed the government for delaying pension, adding that “even those that were forced to retire since 2012, who are not ripe for retirement, did so because of the new pension law.”
He opined that the government also refused to pay their entitlements now running to six months.
“It is very sad that 98 of them have died and that has been the agony we are passing through under this regime,” he lamented.
Akinyemi, however, urged to government to address the issue, saying “non of our demand has been implemented despite all meetings and negotiations.”
In his reaction, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, condemned the protest, saying: “They don’t need to do what they are doing because Mr. Governor has signed the remaining salary arrears owed the entire workers in the state.”
Oyetola, however, debunked the claim by the workers that government is owing them five months salaries.
“As at now, we have paid up to the month of January this year and on or before the end of this week, the remaining salaries would definitely be paid without any delay. So, we don’t just sit down here doing nothing because we know their plight,” Oyetola said.
However a statement issued and signed the Director, Communication and Strategy to the governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, denied the allegation that the state is owing five months salaries.
He noted that that the state government was owing just three months and pleaded with the workers to show understanding over the matter.
The statement said, “It has come to our knowledge that today, some workers under the aegis of the TUC came together in protest against salaries that have not been paid.
“While we recognize the right of the workers to seek for the payment of that which is legitimately theirs, we wish to repeat for the umpteen time that the unfortunate owing of salaries running to about three months cannot be divorced from the crushing revenue crisis that has hit Nigeria as a whole, “What is required at this stage is for all and sundry to properly understand the genesis of this whole saga which will be helpful rather than being viewed as a deliberate act on the part of the government. “We are aware that President Goodluck Jonathan made some statements during his visit to OSUN at the weekend where he was reported to have asked OSUN people to demand for their salaries, saying his government pays states at when due and that some states have borrowed money beyond their capacities”.