The Nasarawa State deputy governor, Silas Agara, on Tuesday denied that the government had reduced civil servants’ salaries, saying the government merely removed the extra money it had been paying in addition to federal minimum wage.
Mr. Agara said on Tuesday in Lafia that the government had been paying double the federal minimum wage of N18, 000, but decided to halt the package as its monthly allocation from the federal government dwindles amid a national economic crunch.
The apparent pay cut is telling mightily on the workers nonetheless. In interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, several workers gave figures of their salaries before the cut, and the “piecemeal” the drastic reduction left them with. They all requested their identities be protected because of civil service rules.
One civil servant in the ministry of works said he had earlier obtained a bank loan to complete his house. With the salary cut, the staff said he went home last month with only N1, 500.
A senior teacher at one of the state government colleges said before the cut, he received N54, 000 monthly, but was paid only N7, 000 last month.
A director in the state ministry of education, who received N224, 000 as monthly salary, was paid N100, 000, while a secondary school principal said she was paid N70, 000 instead of the usual 200,000 monthly.
Workers are on strike in the state, in protest of the pay cut.
On Saturday, the government warned it may recruit new graduates to replace the aggrieved workers.
Halima Iliya, a graduate of economics who told PREMIUM TIMES she had been without job since earning a degree 10 years ago, said her state government should hasten to implement the mass sack.
She said some unemployed youth were willing to accept as low as N10,000 monthly.
Another native, Joseph Ogelebe, accused the workers of being selfish, saying civil servants constitute “less than 10 percent of the entire population”, and should consider that the government has to care for other residents.
“When salaries of local government workers was cut by government last year, state civil servants ignored local government workers, the labour union could not press on government to reverse its decision, now that it has affected all, they involved everyone to embark on strike,” he said.