How we maintain peace with workers in Oyo ― Titilola-Sodo

Titilola-Sodo peace Oyo workers

Comrade Bayo Titilola-Sodo, the Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Labour Matters, was former Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Oyo State chapter. He speaks with KUNLE BAKARE on the achievements of the state government viz-a-viz labour issues and the relative peace between the government and workers.

You were at a time the Chairman of NLC in the state. But now you are on the other side. How do you strike a balance between the two?

I still see myself as a labour leader in the state because I don’t allow politics to distance me from the people and I will always be on the side of the masses. You might observed that from the advent of this administration, the government and labour have been having cordial relationship, and that has been the result of why somebody like me is in charge of labour matters in the state, I think we have not advised the governor wrongly on issues that concerns the welfare of workers in the state.

What was the relationship between government and labour leaders before you assume office?

Before 29 May, 2019, the relationship between the government and labour leaders was not all that cordial. But we thank God today that peace reign supreme between the two sides, and the result is what you are seeing today. There was never a time government and labour had any reason to look at each other straight in the eye. The governor is aware of what it means to pay workers as at when due. And I am happy to say that workers in the state have continued to get their salaries on the 25th of every month.

Before we came on board, pensioners were not well catered for. But this government, as we speak today, is not owing any pensioner, and we are hoping to put in place a contributory pension scheme that will allow workers in the state to get paid some amounts immediately after they retire. In fact in terms of taking care of pensioners, Oyo State is one of the best in the country .

Can you tell how much the state has paid pensioners since you assumed this position?

We have paid over N30 billion to pensioners to cover some of the arrears we met on the ground and we are hoping to improve on this so as to put smiles on the faces of the pensioners and those who are still in service. We have also increased the car loan from N500 to N750, 000, housing loan to three million naira. The government has also sent a bill to the House (of Assembly) for the establishment of a loans board so that workers in the state will find it easy to assess loans and to make it possible for the government to track the loans. With the board in place, there will be no room for fraud and the facility will be able to go round. The 13th month salary is also part of what we put in place since we came on board .

Where does the government get the fund to do all these?

Well, the government has improved on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state. For now, the state is generating over two billion naira monthly. While I know the magic that the government is employing to achieve the successes recorded so far, I don’t think it will be appropriate to say this to the press.

What category of workers can assess the loan put in place by the government?

No one is exempted from taken the loan as long as you are a worker in the state. The government has earmarked N20 million monthly into the pool for workers to access. However, the rule is just that you cannot use more than one-third of your monthly income to service any loan taken.

Can you tell us the number of ghost workers this administration has uncovered since it came on board?

It will be premature to give an accurate figure now because a consultant is working on that and we can only wait for them to finish the assignment.

There is no doubt that the state has borrowed huge amount of money. Can you tell us precisely how much the state is owing presently?

At the appropriate time, those in charge will come out with the accurate figure. But I can tell you for free that it is not in the region of what people are saying and it will not surpass what we met when we came in. All I know is that the government is not just borrowing but rather spending the money on viable projects that people can see and relate with.

How much is the state paying its workers as minimum wage?

The present minimum wage in the state is N30, 500, and the governor would have increased it but due to the COVID-19 pandemic which affected the state economy.

How many workers do we have in Oyo State?

As at today, we have about 101, 000 workers with over 600 schools and with that you should be able to know that our workforce is on the high side .

Can you tell us the number of workers sacked by the previous administration that were reinstated?

The process is still ongoing and I may not be able to give you the accurate figure but you are all aware that this administration is trying to right the wrong of the past administration.

What is the government doing to tackle the problem of corruption most especially as it concerns the issue of pensioners?

Sometimes, the victims are afraid to report issues like this and to expose those who request or take the bribe. But the government is aware of this and is putting measures in place to address this and those behind such will be exposed and severely dealt with.

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