A Lagos-based non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), has commended the Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for prompt reversal of the downward review of salaries for civil servants in levels 7 to 17 with effect from Sept. 1.
The Group stated this recently in Lagos while reacting to a statement by Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie, which stated that the decision by the state Government to reverse the policy initially slated to last for six months, was to cushion the effects of the increased prices of petroleum products vis-à-vis hike in electricity tariffs and general inflation in the country.
SEJA said it was particularly happy that the state government has by the decision proved to be a responsible and responsive government committed to providing people purposed leadership, adding that the development is not only an impressive one but a right step taken in the right direction.
According to the Group, there are reasons why this development is adjudged not only as newsworthy but commendable.
“First and very key is that when Mr. Governor introduced the salary cut due to the precarious economic condition in the country posed by the raveging Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid-19), he promised to stop the cut whenever there were improvements in state finances. But like the generality of Nigerians, we were of the view that such declaration was one of the usual political gimmicks played by Nigerian politicians. But with this latest development, The Governor has earned our commendation,” the Group said.
The right advocates therefore called on other states, and the federal government in particular, to draw a lesson from the Delta state government’s example by reversing the recent hikes in petrol and electricity tariffs which has placed excruciating burden on Nigerians and brought about an astronomical rise in prices of goods and services.
It noted that the federal government must do something to help Nigerians come out of this present challenge.
“It Is in the interest of the government to do this as a formidable way of curbing crime and reducing threatening insecurity in the country. It should be done not merely for political consideration but from the views of national development and sustenance of our democracy.”
In the same vein, the group applauded the workers in the state for their patience and understanding all through the period the salary cut lasted and called on them to reciprocate this greater gesture from the government by putting in their best in the service of the state as every freedom comes with a commensurate responsibility.
SEJA, however, admonished the governor to get more committed to the well-being of the state workforce and the entire people of the state in general and extend the present gesture to the pensioners in the state who recently demonstrated at the entrance of the state Governor’s office to press home their demand for the payments of their pension. This needs to be urgently looked into, they added.
It would be recalled that a few months ago, the Delta state government announced a cut in salaries of civil servants from grade level seven (7) and above and that of the political appointees in the state. A decision which the State Government explained was part of the interim fiscal measures, and outcome of wide consultations with stakeholders on managing the economic challenges occasioned by the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus.