COVID-19: Niger cuts teachers, LG workers’ salaries, orders civil servants back to work



The Niger state government has directed its workers from levels 1 to level 12 to resume office as from Monday, April 6, 2020 after spending two weeks at home to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and chairman of the state taskforce on COVID-19, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, gave the directive Sunday while briefing journalists on the activities of the committee in Minna.

 He said: “Civil servants on levels 1-12 earlier directed to stay at home as part of measures taken by government to curb the spread of COVID -19 are now to resume work on Monday, 6th April, 2020 from 8am to 2pm.”

According to the COVID -19 taskforce chairman, the curfew earlier imposed from 8am to 10pm has been relaxed to 2pm to 10pm daily to avoid rushing and pressure on markets and the risk of not maintaining social distancing.

He said all markets in the state would  now open from 8am to 2pm to enable people buy foodstuff and other essentials, while urging marketers to adhere strictly to precautionary measures of the  health ministry.

 He said government had commenced the fumigation of public places, including markets and public schools, adding that the fumigation of private schools would however be done on subsidised cost.

He assured that the distribution of food items as palliatives for vulnerable residents of the state would begin in few days, saying some of the supplies had started arriving government warehouses.

While pointing out that the state was yet to register any positive case of COVID -19, the SSG said it was however necessary for the government to take precautionary measures, including the restriction of movement and closure of national and international borders.

 Matane explained that government would likely lift the ban on Muslim Friday Jumma’at prayers and Sunday Church services by Christians next week if the situation remained stable.

 He dismissed insinuations going round the state that government had banned call to prayers, insisting that “it is totally not true but handiwork of mischief makers to smear the good intentions of the present administration.  Call to prayers are still being made while individuals are expected to pray at home.”   

LG workers, teachers donate part salary

Meanwhile, local government workers and primary school teachers in Niger state are to forfeit 20% of their March 2020 salaries due to shortfall in statutory allocation resulting from COVID-19 pandemic.

 Blueprint learnt that this decision was reached at a tripartite meeting between the 25 local government council chairmen, officials of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), those of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Medical and Allied Workers Union (MAWU).

 It was learnt that the 25 local governments in the state got the statutory allocation of N3.6billion for the month of March whereas the total wage bill is about N3.4billion monthly outside first line charges 

The meeting, it was further gathered,  agreed that in the  circumstance, workers be paid 80 percent of their salaries for March while the 20 percent be set aside to provide some palliatives to the vulnerable to cushion the effect of the stay-at-home directive at the rural communities, 

 The state Chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and chairman of Chanchaga local government council, Malam Ibrahim Abubakar Bosso, confirmed the development Sunday.

He said it was informed by the shortfall in the total amount accruable to the councils from the march Federal Allocation.

 However, a source at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who spoke anonymously, said   “after the statutory deductions of union dues, 5% emirate deductions, security votes and monthly overhead for the chairmen, what was left of the allocation was less than N3billion and this could not pay 100 percent salaries of the over 3,000 workers at the local government.

 “It was at this stage the meeting agreed that only 80% of salaries should be paid to workers with part of the agreement also being to first pay the 20% before any deduction during the April salaries.”

 However, the decision didn’t go down with a cross section of the workers who insisted full salaries should be paid.

 Blueprint gathered that the workers were angry at the chairman’s refusal to; at least, forfeit their overhead cost and security vote for the month of March. 

It was learnt the council bosses collected between N10million and N15million as overhead cost in addition to their security votes.”

Worried by this development, the workers, through their various unions, warned against the partial payment of their salaries in whatever percentage under any excuse, and have therefore vehemently rejected the 20 percent salaries shortfall

 In  a letter dated 31st March, 2020 and signed by Comrade Kabiru Yakubu, the secretary of the joint union, warned that “on no account should any branch chairman or his representative enter into any agreement with any local government council for the partial payment of March 2020 salaries.”

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