AN APPEAL TO OYO STATE CIVIL SERVANTS TO END THE PROTEST, RETURN TO WORK AND NURTURE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT*
Prior to my involvement in the politics and government of Oyo State, I had spent more than a decade working with international development organisations including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations. Working with these organisations gave me the opportunity of travelling to every State of this country as I provided technical assistance in capacity development, education and behavioural and attitudinal changes to various states. It was in Oyo State that I found a crop of well trained, highly committed and dedicated civil servants throughout the period of my tour of duty.
It was no surprise that when in June 1999, I was appointed as a member of the State Executive Council I met a crop of highly talented, well trained and dedicated civil servants. I was lucky to have worked in information, youth, sports and culture; tourism, agriculture, rural development, natural resources, education, science and technology. I also worked in some parastatals like OYSADEP, 3SC, Sports Council, BCOS, Council for Arts & Culture, BOTAVED among others. I rounded it up with2 stints at the Governor’s office. In all these places, I worked with civil and public servants who are very intelligent and highly committed to their duties. Thus, I am always proud of Oyo State Civil Servants.
As a student of Oyo State government and politics, I have come to appreciate the relationship between the Seyi Makinde administration and the workers. The administration has shown great commitment to the welfare of the workers. For example, for 50 months consecutively, the government had paid salaries on or before the 25th of each month. They have also paid 13th month salaries for 4 consecutive years in addition to promotion of workers of various categories. The administration has also re absorbed into the service several workers that were unjustly laid off by the previous administration in addition to the recruitment of new employees especially in the education sector. I observed that the buildings of some government ministries, departments and agencies have been given a facelift in order to provide a more conducive work environment for the staff. Similarly, new Omituntun buses have been provided for workers transport. All of these have shown that the Seyi Makinde administration is highly committed to the welfare of the workers. The workers also reciprocated by supporting the Governor in his re-election bid.
It is therefore surprising and highly disappointing to see that Oyo State workers have embarked on some form of protest in the past few days over non payment of deductions for 2 or 3 months. This is an issue that I feel should be resolved through jaw-jaw and not war-war considering the relationship between both parties in the past 50 months. The Nigerian economy is presently in turmoil and Oyo State is not immune from its unpalatable consequences. Many other states including those with huge federal allocations are owing workers arrears of salaries and emoluments whereas Oyo State has kept faith with its workers. For the 2 sides to weather this economic and financial storm, it is imperative that the spirit of constructive engagement and regular and unhindered dialogue between the parties should be vigorously pursued.
In the light of the foregoing, I wish to appeal to the leaders and stakeholders of the various unions to call- off the present protest and go into dialogue with the government. I am sure the government will be very ready to engage the workers in meaningful dialogue. The workers need to take this important step in the overall interest of Oyo State. May the Lord continue to guide both the leaders of government and the leaders of the workers.
*Morohunkola Thomas is an Ibadan-based legal practitioner and political consultant*