Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko announced on Thursday that the State government is “broke” and therefore cannot afford to pay the striking civil servants’ their salaries.
Mr. Mimiko announced this while addressing the protesting workers, explaining that the State treasury is empty and that the government is struggling to survive.
“So, we can no longer pay salaries, even when they are due,” the embattled governor said to the workers.
The protesting workers in a deliberate action had earlier shut down the entrance to the government house to prevent Mr. Mimiko and his convoy from entering the building.
“The protesting workers disallowed him [Mimiko] entry into the government house and forced his convoy to stop at a meter to the main gate of the now ‘abandoned’ compound.
“Their real plan was to compel the governor to alight personally from his vehicle and publicly address them over their demands.
“Addressing them, Mimiko convincingly told the protesting civil servants to buckle up for a financial crash, as the State is broke,” our correspondent reported.
However, irritated by the action of some protesting workers who continuously hurled abuses on his government in a rude manner, the governor threatened to sack them from the services of his government.
“If you continue in this manner, I will sack you from the services of this State government, you can bet me! Because I am still your employer,” he said.
SaharaReporters learned that the workers are demanding the payment of their accumulated salaries from December and January till date.
In January 2016, Mr. Mimiko advised civil servants in the workforce of his government to engage in subsistence farming due to the declining economy of Ondo State and Nigeria at large.
This was as a result of a drastic drop in oil derivation funds from the international market, our correspondent further reported.
“You can do this at the backyard or front of your compound because I can’t guarantee the financial status of this State any longer,” Mr. Mimiko said when he attended a program at the State event center.
During Thursday’s protest, Mr. Mimiko spoke further and explained that the State monthly wage bill including pensions is N3.9 billion, adding that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) still stands at about one third of the wage bill.
“Our monthly wage bill is still N3. 9 billion, and all the funds we are collecting from Abuja [federal allocation], oil derivation funds, Value Added Tax, Internally Generated Revenue put together is N1. 3 billion,” the governor told the protesting workers.
Mr. Mimiko begged the government employees to resume work for the sake of dying and sick patients in the government clinic, arguing that the strike is taking a toll on the health sector of the State.
“I am begging you because the continuation of this strike will not bring us any money,” he said.
On the strike, the organized labor leaders also held a meeting with traditional rulers in the State led by a monarch from Mr. Mimiko’s hometown, the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Victor Kiladejo, but it ended in a stalemate.
Bosede Daramola, the embattled chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Ondo State, disclosed that the protesting workers are gradually dying of hunger and cannot continue to work on empty stomachs.
Mr. Daramola also declared that the strike would continue until the workers are paid their salaries.