The inhumane treatment that has been meted out on the people of Benue State, particularly the civil servants, is very unchristian. It is sad that most of the civil servants in the state depend largely on their salaries to cater for their families and solve other problems, but hardly are they get paid. Unlike their counterparts in other states like Cross River, who at some point had to protest for what they considered early payment of salaries, Benue State Civil servants are dying of hunger, starvation and avoidable death especially for those with complicated health issues who cannot access medical care due to lack of finance as a result of unpaid salaries.
A reliable source at the Benue State Teaching Services Board, who does not want to be mentioned, said that the state is owing local government workers about nine months salary arrears while state workers are owed four months. In the same vein, a retired civil servant at the local government level said that since her retirement in 2009, she has not received a dime as part of her gratuity and she now finds it difficult to solve most of her problems. Besides, she cannot boast of a decent accommodation after serving the government for a handsome number of years.
It is worthy of note that all governors in most of our states are sworn in using either the Bible or Qu’ran. It’s a subject of speculation as to whether these governors who starve civil servants of their wages for months are aware of this particular portion of the Bible that says, “Do not take advantage of anyone or rob him. Do not hold back the wages of someone you have hired, not even for a night”(Leviticus 19:11-13).
It is a truism that Nigerians are really suffering today and this attributable to no other factor but some state governors are the causative factor. They see their exalted position as a means of acquiring wealth and have the mindset that they are to be served and not to serve. The relegate service completely to the background. In the early days of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari identified non-payment of salaries as a major national issue and moved swiftly to bailout the states. However the issue of salaries and pensions is still a mirage to both serving and retired civil servants in Benue State. Most of these civil servants battle hard to earn a living not to talk of a decent accommodation and mobility while in active services. The salaries don’t come often and they still have to fight for it after retirement. What an unfair treatment by humans to fellow human beings!
The state recently received the Paris Club funds but the story is still the same as civil servants are owed for months without the hope of it being cleared but the state is always in Abuja every 23rd to 25th to collect allocation meant for her. To a greater extent, the bailout has brought untold hardship to so many families with most of their wards roaming the streets of the state for an alternative means of livelihood while those in authority use the funds to send their children to best schools within the country and overseas, tactically leaving the future generation of the country that is already poor, poorer. If this set of people had the mindset to serve, it is expected of them to have a first class information on the states, taking into cognisance the internally generated revenue, wage bill and Federal allocation and perhaps to work it all for a balance. At the point you cannot pay salaries, you have no ongoing life transforming projects. The government only gives flimsy excuses. Then it shows the inability or unreadiness to rule as well as ignorance of the state being governed. What the best known of men of integrity from other parts of the world do is to resign honourably. It is my plea to President Buhari to save our future and our dying parents. They are not the cause of their present plight, particularly in Benue State.
► Thomas Terungwa-Kumba wrote from Makurdi, Benue State.