The Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Labour Affairs, Bayo Titilola Sodo has said that, the achievement of his principal, Engr. Makinde on Infrastructure development in Oyo State is incomparable to all the previous administrations.
Titilola-Sodo also stated that” Anyone saying that prompt payment of salary, pension and gratuities are not achievements is either irresponsibly ignorant or satanically mischievous,” stressing that “Anyone who does what Napoleon was unable to do is greater than Napoleon.”
The former state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress spoke on Wednesday while featuring on the monthly personality platform of the elite South West Group of Online Publishers held at the Development Support Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan.
He noted that Oyo State Civil Service reflected the society, explaining that the “state government is paying them as at when due. To whom much is given, much is expected. The request the government has always been making from the workers is to be diligent in their duties, honest and loyal to the government and people of Oyo State.”
“The minimum wage in Oyo State is N30,500. Engr. Seyi Makinde has been paying. He has been keeping to his promise by paying workers’ salaries on or before the 25th day of every month. The minimum wage negotiation was the first of its kind in Oyo State. It was a negotiation that was devoid of rancour, violence, protest and strike. The governor doesn’t wait for federal allocation before paying the workers. Although the salary has not been reviewed upward, we have continued to meet our responsibilities as and when due. Paying workers’ entitlement is not limited to the active workers; the senior citizens are not left behind. This present government has committed over N13.5billion to payment of gratuities across the board in the state.”
On the state of tertiary institutions in Oyo, Titilola-Sodo said that the government took laudable steps. “The tertiary institutions have the right to make their demands but they should be reasonable in making their demands. No domestic issue with LAUTECH until the national Academic Staff Union of Universities declared a strike. The institution joined the strike but we have other state universities that didn’t join.
“We are appealing to them to resume because the institution is just coming out of a crisis-ridden period. When Oyo State took over the institution, there was an agreement to pay an N8billion to Osun State as a settlement which the state government has been paying. This is an open secret to which many of the staff of the institution are aware. So, if we now say something is happening nationally, should we now jeopardise the interest of the institution, students and the environment where it is located?
“When this government came on board, we inherited arrears of LAUTECH staff salary that was not less than eight months and we have paid everything. As for other institutions in the state, we also negotiated their new minimum wage and they got what even public service did not get. The minimum in that sector was 95per cent of the table that came from Abuja while some got as higher as 98per cent.
“After Lagos State, we pay the best wages in Oyo state. It is only our public service workers that are mainly shortchanged. This is not deliberate; it is something that can be corrected. Our health workers earn better than other health workers in the South-West except for Lagos State. In addition, we have paid all the arrears in the institutions except Lanlate because they have a special issue. We have not refused to settle.”
On the involvement of consultants in the financial management of higher institutions and the state, he said, “Workers generally don’t like consultants because there are regulations guarding the operations of the finances of the government. We are in a situation where the government continue to discover and observe lapses in some areas, particularly in the collection of revenues. Government makes use of consultants for efficient collection of revenues and to also employs TSA for adequate monitoring.
“The government thinks there is a need to control its expenditure because the resources are not limitless. The resources are limited and we have a lot of commitments. We know that the easiest way to reflate the economy of Oyo State is through prompt payment of salary. Anyone saying prompt payment of salary, pension and gratuities are not achievements is either irresponsibly ignorant or satanically mischievous. Anyone who does what Napoleon was unable to do is greater than Napoleon.”
Conceding to the fact that some critical departments in some ministries and parastatals were understaffed, he stated that “It all depends on the resources available to the state. Over N11billion is being paid as emoluments every month to workers and retirees in the state. I make bold to say that no government has done what the Makinde-led administration has done in terms of infrastructures within the space of three years in Oyo state.
“To make sure that LAUTECH students resume, we are still talking. There is no time we have entirely shut the door for interaction. We have been appealing to them to return to school. We are not condemning their activities nor are they condemning ours. They should be sympathetic and considerate.”
Scoring Makinde high on performance, Titilola-Sodo said, “If one good term deserves another, I am confident that we shall not lose a single vote of the workers of Oyo State. We have tasted two sides of a coin and we know the side we would want to continue.
Oyo State service is an ageing service. The wish of Engr. Seyi Makinde is to open more opportunities for the people to reach the peak of their careers; that was what informed the creation of 20 new Permanent Secretary Positions. We have about 100,000 workers in Oyo State.”
On the recent face-off between the parliamentary staff of the Oyo State House of Assembly and the Speaker regarding the non-implementation of the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure, he said that “No matter what you do, excellence is work in progress. It should have been implemented, but everything is subjected to the availability of resources. It is good for them to demand its implementation, but the question is that how many states have implemented it? Is it all federal laws that are immediately domesticated across states?
“That is not to say that anything that is germane to the workers of Oyo State would be treated with levity. It is the same honourable Speaker that presided over a meeting where an agreement was reached that the matter would be resolved. A date has been fixed and I can tell you that the outcome is going to be for the satisfaction of the two parties.”
Labour union leaders who came for the programme in company with Titilola-Sodo are Ogundiran Emmanuel, Kayode Martins, Olanipekun Olalekan, and Olusegun Abatan, Adebayo Aribatise and Ayo Adeogun.