The Kwara State Government has condemned the inclusion of the state in a petition by SERAP to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged non-payment of salaries to workers.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) petitioned the ICC, accusing some state governments including Kwara State of committing a crime by not paying workers’ salaries.
Reacting to the group’s petition, the Governor of the State, Abdufatah Ahmed, described it as baseless and lacking a foundation, also stating that Kwara State is up-to-date in the payment of salaries to state civil servants and pensioners.
Mr Ahmed stressed that SERAP might have been referring to the local government councils in the state, which received separate allocations from the federal government and have varying degrees of staff and pension arrears.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Dr Muideen Akorede, the Kwara State Governor said that despite experiencing a drop in monthly allocation from 3.2 billion naira to 800 million naira, the state government has sustained payment of its civil servants and pensioners through prudent management of resources and revenue reforms.
These measures, he said, have increased internally generated revenue by more than 100% in less than a year.
Continuing, Mr Ahmed said that he was working with local government chairmen in the state to redress salary arrears at that tier of government through measures such as the proposed takeover of junior secondary school funding by the state to reduce the financial pressure on local governments.
He, therefore, wondered why SERAP would refer an issue involving contractual obligation between a government and its workers to the ICC which deals with criminal matters and settles legal disputes submitted to it by sovereign states.
The state governor pointed out that while the said LG pension and salary delays were unfortunate and painful, the issue is reflective of the financial gridlock currently confronting the country and is neither intentional nor criminal in nature.
The Governor further dismissed the petition as selective for failing to reflect the federal government position that 27 states are currently unable to pay workers.
Mr Ahmed questioned the source of SERAP’s data, and emphasised that recent surveys by the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), respected National Media Organisations as well as reputable financial watchdogs in the country had given Kwara State a clean bill of health with regards to payment of state workers and pensioners.