Every worker deserves their fair wages — until they meet a Nigerian governor.
Governors are notorious for owing workers and pensioners for as long as they can get away with it. The situation has improved over the years, but it’s still common to see images like this:
A recent survey by civic organisation, BudgIT, showed that at least 15 state governors owed civil service workers at least one month’s salary as of July 2022. Eight of them owed more than one category of workers surveyed for the study.
These governors didn’t spare even pensioners who should be kicking back and enjoying the fruits of their life-long labour after retirement.
Here are the faces of the biggest offenders, according to BudgIT:
Okezie Ikpeazu — Abia
Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has failed to pay pensioners and state tertiary institution workers for more than 30 months.
The state’s primary healthcare workers (over 12 months) and secondary healthcare workers (over 10 months) are also being owed.
And because he (probably) didn’t want anyone feeling left out, Ikpeazu also owes primary school teachers (six months), local government workers (six months), secondary school teachers (five months) and local government workers (five months).
Ben Ayade — Cross River
Governor Ayade owes primary school teachers, secondary school teachers and secretariat workers in Cross River State two months’ salary each.
Dave Umahi — Ebonyi
Pensioners are also casualties in Ebonyi State where Governor Umahi hasn’t paid them in six months. He also hasn’t paid three months’ worth of salaries to secretariat workers.
Godwin Obaseki — Edo
Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, should protect his shirt collar anywhere he sees local government and primary healthcare workers whom he owes salaries for more than six months.
Rotimi Akeredolu — Ondo
Rotimi Akeredolu is another governor owing so many people, it almost feels deliberate. He owes primary school teachers and primary healthcare workers five months each and owes four months to secondary school teachers, local government workers, secretariat workers and state secondary healthcare workers.
State tertiary institution workers and pensioners are also waiting on him to pay more than six months’ worth of salaries.
Abdullahi Sule — Nasarawa
Abdullahi Sule owes secretariat workers four months’ worth of salaries and owes six months each to secondary school workers and local government workers.
Simon Lalong — Plateau
Governor Lalong is owing everyone except pensioners. He owes primary school teachers (four months), secondary school teachers (three months), local government workers (six months), secretariat workers (three months), primary healthcare workers (three months) secondary healthcare workers (three months) and state tertiary institution workers (three months).
Darius Ishaku — Taraba
Governor Ishaku’s owing local government workers (six months), primary school teachers (four months) and secretariat workers (four months).
The BudgIT report also showed that governors in Adamawa (Ahmadu Fintiri), Benue (Samuel Ortom), Borno (Babagana Zulum), Delta (Ifeanyi Okowa), Ekiti (Kayode Fayemi), Kogi (Yahaya Bello) and Imo (Hope Uzodinma) owe at least one category of workers or pensioners.
Why are Nigerian governors chronic debtors?
Paying salaries in Nigeria is such a big deal that it’s used as a campaign promise. It’s like water wanting to be praised for being wet. And even though the bar is deep down in the mud, some Nigerian governors like those on this list still fail to clear it.
Low revenue generation is one of the biggest reasons for this culture of not paying salaries. And when you stack on rising debt and the government’s mismanagement of resources, you have the recipe for what’s happening in the culprit states.
A total of 1,042 respondents contributed to the data published by BudgIT. And the public reception has shown that there are probably more states also owing workers not captured by the result.
The obvious repercussion of having an unpaid workforce is an unhappy workforce whose productivity will likely be impacted. State governors simply have to do better. Nigeria is already hard enough for workers not to get their fair wages.