Unpaid Salaries: States with clean bill of health

Governor-Willy-Obiano-of-Anambra-StateThat Lagos and Rivers states do not owe salaries is not surprising to many given their buoyant economies, whose outputs surpass that of some African economies. Interestingly, even some so-called less economically vibrant states have paid workers’ salaries up to date. So, how come less economically vibrant states are able to pay salaries while those hitherto regarded as economically vibrant owe workers and pensioners? For analysts, it boils down to prudent management of resources as well as prioritization of workers’ welfare above other commitments.

For instance, Bayelsa State, which pockets an average monthly revenue of N11billion comprising federal allocation, 13 percent derivation fund, value-added tax and internally generated revenue, owe workers four months’ unpaid salaries even as its average monthly wage bill of N3.5billion is less than half the monthly receipts.

Same as Delta State that collects an average monthly revenue of N12.22 billion compared to an average monthly wage bill of N7.5billion. These are not the best of times for local council workers in the state who are owed several months of salary arrears.  Some other states with clean bill of health in terms of salary payment are Cross River, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu, Yobe, Borno, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Adamawa and Jigawa.

Borno State, ravaged by Boko Haram terrorists and with average monthly revenue of N4.63billion (excluding 13 percent derivation fund), is able to settle a monthly overhead of N5.2billion. The same could be said of the neighbouring Yobe State also ravaged by the terrorists. The state collects average revenue of N3.8billion monthly as against an overhead of N3.6billion. Niger State has resorted to borrowing to pay workers’ salaries although the government says this may not be sustainable in the long run. As a mark of the state’s commitment to workers’ welfare, the government placed payment of salaries on the first line charge and has since not defaulted in its statutory obligation. Sokoto State with an average monthly income of N4.43billion and an average monthly recurrent expenditure of N4.23billion has paid salaries up to date.

Kaduna State, one of the economically buoyant states in the north, had to engage in verification of workers which weeded out over 13,000 ‘ghost workers’ and thus put the state in good stead to pay workers up to date. The exercise, however, left those yet to be verified without salary. With over 75,000 staff on its payroll, the state manages to pay salaries with an average monthly income of N5.83billion.  In Jigawa State, the Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar government has always paid workers and pensioners as at when due.  The state government was able to achieve this through the introduction of cost-saving measures in all public expenditure.

Another success story is Anambra State. The workers continue to enjoy consistent salary even with 16 percent increment by Governor Willie Obiano, since July last year. According to Obiano, governors who ‘sleep’ without paying the salaries of workers in their states are irresponsible. Many trace the Anambra situation to the prudence in resource management by the Peter Obi administration, which preferred to save money than engage in white elephant projects. The state has an average monthly income of N4.56billion but prior to the fall in crude oil price, it had N11billion savings in the bank; received a refund of N10billion from the federal government and had N26billion in foreign currency investments. In all, Anambra State had N75billion in fiscal buffers with which it is navigating these difficult times.

However, not many analysts think all states owing workers’ salaries engaged in white elephant projects. Some states actually engaged in transformative projects, only to be undone by the drop in the price of crude oil which sent revenues crashing.

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