By; ISMAILA UBA MISILLI
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), a coalition of various senior staff unions of different sectors, on Saturday, April 29, 2023, conferred on Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya the Outstanding Pro-labour Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership and commitment to promoting a decent work agenda.
The award was presented to the governor during the TUC’s maiden Award Night and Dinner which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
According to the national president of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, Governor Inuwa was chosen among the 36 states of the federation and the FCT for the award due to his administration’s prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions, and clearing of backlog of gratuities owed retirees by previous administrations in his state as well as his outstanding contributions towards the promotion of workers rights and welfare.
Without any shadow of doubt, Governor lnuwa Yahaya of Gombe State stands out among the pack as the most progressive state governor in terms of improving the welfare and well-being of workers.
Apart from ensuring prompt payment of salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities, the governor has also provided workers with state-of-the-art working tools and facilities to enhance their productivity and efficiency.
Indeed, it is on record that Governor Inuwa Yahaya, more than any other state chief executive in Nigeria, has laboured tirelessly and relentlessly to improve the lot of the workers, both in his private and official capacity, utilising the meagre resources at his disposal.
For instance, from day one, the Gombe helmsman directed that salaries and other emoluments of Gombe State workers be paid not later than the 24th of every month to curb incessant delays in salary payments, which was the unfortunate hallmark of the past administrations.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya’s innovative civil and public service reforms raised the tempo with the establishment of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms ( BPSR) as well as its strategic arms, the State Reforms Council and the Steering Commitee to foster efficiency and ensure quality and result-oriented service delivery in the state’s workforce.
The governor also eradicated politicisation of appointments in the civil service, ended the unhealthy rivalry in the system, mandated the installation of modern IT tools and office equipment in all the ministries, parastatals and agencies in Gombe State, while funds have been released for breakneck training and retraining of all categories of staff to meet the challenges of the global community.
At present, Gombe, with its relatively modest federal allocation is been one of the first states to pay its workers the N30,000 minimum wage, while some oil producing states that receive whopping monthly allocations have failed to do so.
During the TUC award ceremony, Comrade Festus Osifo was full of praises for the Gombe State governor, particularly for his concern about the plight of pensioners in his state and for putting smiles on the faces of the senior citizens, who he said have served the government diligently, loyally and meritoriously, by paying their pensions and backlogs of gratuity.
Recall that Governor Inuwa had, for the fourth time in less than 4 years, put smiles on the faces of senior citizens comprising state and local government retirees.
He had in February this year paid N3billion as the backlog of gratuity to over 5000 LG and state retirees.
“So far, we have paid a total sum of N7.9bn out of the N21bn backlog we Inherited from the last Administration,” the governor declared during a ceremony to flag off the payment at the Government House.
With Inuwa Yahaya at the helm of affairs in Gombe, the era of civil servants working and dying without enjoying their gratuities and pensions are over.
He told the retirees: “You have laboured in the service of our dear state, you must also enjoy the fruits of your labour.”
The APC- led administration inherited a backlog of over N21billion gratuities for both the state and LGA retirees from the past administration. State pensions obligation was over 14billion, while that of LGAs was over 7billion, bringing it to a total of over N21billion in 2019.
But notwithstanding the gloomy situation on ground when he came to power, the governor has consistently kept faith with all the promises he made.
As of today, Inuwa has paid state pensioners their 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 entitlements with the total payout for state retirees standing at N6.6billion.
Also, Governor Inuwa Yahaya has broken numerous records in the area of youth employment. For instance, he engaged thousands of youths in planting and nurturing over 4 million trees under the Gombe Goes Green Project, while over 2,000 youths have also been employed in the Gombe State Security,Traffic and Environmental Corps (G-STEC). About 1,000 youths have also been employed under the At-Risk Children Programme (ARC-P) and another 3,000 youths engaged as development facilitators working for the progress of their various communities.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya’s administration has also employed over 1,000 fresh teachers through the Gombe State Teachers’ Service Commission, distributed over 1,000 Keke-Napep tricycles to youths to keep them gainfully employed, even as a data base has been established, which has captured over 30,000 unemployed graduates to link them with jobs in the private and public sectors.
In addition, over 20,000 women and youths have been trained in various skills acquisition programmes, with take-off grants and working tools, while the soon to be completed Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park is targeted to create over 100,000 jobs in the agro-allied agro-processing and agro-entrepreneurship sectors.
Indeed Gombe workers have never had it so good, and with the infrastructural and developmental landmarks being embedded by the action-oriented Governor Inuwa Yahaya, it is little wonder that Gombe State is now the best in ease of doing business for the second time running and the most favoured destination for foreign direct Investment further boosting employment opportunities for the teeming population.
It is against this backdrop that the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria adjudged the governor of Gombe State the outstanding, progressive, compassionate and worker-friendly governor in the entire country.
Misilli is Director General, Press Affairs, Government House, Gombe.