Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola yesterday regretted that his administration’s inability to pay workers’ salaries is an economic crisis in the state that was beyond his control.
Speaking to journalists after emerging from a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at Defence House, Abuja, the governor said he felt very sad about men who were unable to meet the needs of his family members.
Noting that it was heart-rending that he had found himself in such “a quagmire”, Aregbesola said those sincere enough to be objective would agree with him that the State of Osun in November 2010 when he assumed office as governor and the state of Osun today cannot be compared.
According to him, people must give credit to the positive changes his government had effected in the state, even as he added that it was not by miracles the changes came about, but by merely applying resources.
His words: “No head of the family will be happy that he cannot feed members of the family. Extend that to state, it is heart-rending that I am in this quagmire. But no matter how sad (I don’t want to use the word ‘depressed’), no matter how unhappy I am, the truth is that I will not fail to say that it is a situation absolutely beyond my control.
“I led an administration in receipt of regular allocation in which I do my budget. Unfortunately, this allocation started falling in rapid form that totally disorganised my budget and every other arrangement.”
Aregbesola explained that with the unexpected and sharp decline in revenue, his administration suffered a major dislocation, which resulted in the sad development.
He said he was able to manage the situation until last year October when there was it dawned in him that there was nothing else he could do.
He continued: “Were it to be Osun alone, probably I would not have an excuse. I pray it does not continue. I am not sure if there will be any state that will actually escape from the biting effect of the absolute sharp drop which I call economic disaster that we are grappling with.
“Since my inauguration on November 27, 2010, I had made it a duty to pay salary on or before 25th of every month up until January 2014 when that became practically impossible.
“I have been giving the same staff who today are, regrettably and painfully, not being paid annual bonus that we call 13th month salary. There was no demand for it. I just felt that workers must be encouraged, they must be inspired.mI did that religiously and faithfully from 2010 to 2013.
“The development that led to this began precisely in July when we received the June allocation and it was short by 40 percent. Since then, what we have been receiving from the Federation Account is less than the wages, personnel cost. It is far and not mildly less.”
The governor went on to explain that the situation was even compounded because his government was unable to go to bank to borrow to pay the wages commitment.
Assuring, however, that with the efforts he was putting in place, there would be hope by month the end of this month, he said, “It is a sad development. I am struggling to reduce the pain as much as possible and I am almost at the end of the efforts I am making to ensure that by the end of this month, I will have enough to at least meet to a large extent the salary needs of the workers”.