• Format
  • Pages
  • Chapters




Reports that public service workers in more than half of Nigeria’s 36 states, at the last count are being owed salaries of between three and eight months by their governments have further highlighted the leadership deficit which citizens have had to endure over the years. If this seeming state of financial bankruptcy is disgraceful, more shameful is the leadership bankruptcy that has engendered it. Of course, to continually demand workers’ loyalty by the governments in default is antithetic to any claims of good governance and in states where they have so acted, the workers are justified to go on strike. Nothing at best also advertised the insensitivity of affected governors (and, without shame, the political parties) to the plight of their people as they hit the campaign trail early in the year to solicit for votes to keep them in power.

However, the current chief executives in the states, old or new, have to find means of redressing this unfortunate development in the shortest time frame because a labourer is deserving of his wages. Owing workers unjustifiably and for no fault of theirs is indefensible; families should be spared this ordeal. In fact, the change preached so vociferously by the current dispensation must start with the settlement of the salary commitments as a priority of the states concerned and, where applicable, the federal service.

It is a fact too that many of the states are contending with bloated workforces they either inherited, or created for political patronages but cannot cater for. The appointments into those offices at whatever level lack honesty of purpose. The governors should, however, be creative enough to improve on their revenue drive to honor their commitments.

It is also on record that many of the governors hardly present themselves as models of good governance with lifestyles that are flamboyant or too extravagant for comfort. It is rather unfortunate indeed that some of the governors who are too quick to plead helplessness and seek understanding on the sliding fortunes of the country’s economy due to falling oil prices had enough funds to pursue their political ambitions and even donate to parties’ purses during the campaigns. They have also always found enough to charter private jets for their travels and sustain a luxurious lifestyle. In no unmistakable terms, a number of the governors have proven themselves unworthy of their offices. They are mere opportunists, incapable of human and material resources management.

Certainly, a total dependence of many states on federal allocations has never been and will never be a way out, thus raising again the question of fiscal federalism. The nation certainly must retrace its step to genuine federalism. Monthly allocations to the states are not shared on equal basis as some receive far in excess of others for some statutory reasons. It cannot be justified, therefore, when all states are required by labour provisions to pay workers the same minimum wage. Each state deserves to negotiate with its workers to enable it pay salaries well and regularly too. States must also be encouraged to explore and invest in resources in their domains, pay royalties to the federal authorities and have access to more revenue.

However, the current crisis may necessitate federal assistance in whatever form to bail out affected states even if on agreed terms of repayment over a period. The national embarrassment on display now need not go on any longer (Editorial Board, The Guardian, 2015).

It is no longer news that for a long time in Nigeria, workers in the public and private sector have suffered at the hands of their employers who have simply refused to pay them the salaries as and when due. Matters got to a head following the drastic drop in the price of oil, a development which affected revenue due to the states from the Federation account and ultimately, their ability to pay their workers. As a matter of fact, it became so bad that at a time, 33 of the 36 states of the Federation were reportedly incapable of paying their workers. A report on the findings by a Civic organization on the subject in November 2016 stated as follows: 33, out of the 36 states of the Federation, are unable to fulfill recurrent obligations. In 2015, BudgIT said only 19 states were in that situation. Before the current administration of President Muhammad Buhari officially declared that Nigeria was in a recession, few months ago, 17 states were reportedly able to meet up with recurrent needs, but, according to BudgIT’s report, only three states can now meet recurrent obligations. A report released by the organization titled ‘State of States’ showed that only Lagos, Rivers and Enugu are the states that can fulfill obligations to its workers. Akwa Ibom reportedly placed last on the table of ability to meet monthly recurrent expenditure commitments followed by Bayelsa, Oyo and Osun, said BudgIT. Other weak states, according to BudgIT are Ogun, Plateau, Delta, Kwara, Adamawa, Abia, Benue, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Cross River, Kogi, Imo, Ondo, Nassarawa, Yobe, Kaduna, Ekiti, Sokoto Borno and Taraba. Zamfara, Gombe, Anambra, Niger, Katsina, Ebonyi, Edo and Kebbi were classified as states with fair shortfalls.”

Regrettably, workers in the private sector have not been spared the agony of unpaid salaries. Much like their counterparts in the private sector, they have been faced with the same frustrations associated with working without pay. Where a worker is unable to receive his salary, it is not improbable that even those around him and particularly his dependents will suffer. He will be unable to take care of basic issues such as rent, food, and healthcare. His children will not only starve, they will also in all probability be sent home from school thereby bringing untold emotional suffering to the family. These are all factors which ultimately will affect productivity. Some months back it was also reported that Judges were owed salaries of upwards of three months. This should never have been allowed to happen.

Sometimes ago, the Institute of Credit  Administration advocated that Nigeria should transit from a cash and carry based economy to a credit based one in which citizens would be able to purchase items on credit and pay in instalments from their identifiable income. It was argued that such a transition would even reduce corruption as the requirement to pay fully before enjoying a service is one of the factors that currently encourages corruption. While this may have worked in other countries, the reluctance of Nigerian employers to pay their workers’ salaries as and when due is one that is bound to work against such a transition to a credit based system. Overall it also negatively affects the economy it stunts the growth of the middle-class without which no country can aspire to economic development.

Yet non-payment of salary is a situation which I believe is totally avoidable. A prudent employer, be it a government or a private company must be able to budget adequately for the payment of its workers. Thus with proper planning there should be no excuse for non-payment of salaries. If governments can budget for the upkeep of political appointees and the operation of political structures, then I do not see why payment of workers salary should attract lesser attention. Non-payment of salaries however one looks at it is unfair, improper, and an invitation to crime and anarchy. It can be agree more with Honourable Gbajabiamila when he stated that: If we must fight corruption, workers’ salaries must be paid promptly because a worker deserves his wages. It infringes on the right to life, which is determined by the quality of that life. It infringes on the right to dignity because the person goes begging from neighbours, family and friends to feed his children. It builds resentment. You cannot tell a child who sees the effects of his parents not being paid, to be patriotic. It encourages criminality; if we talk about security, we must talk about prompt payment of salaries.” (Afe Babalola SAN, CON, 2017).


The multiplier effect of earned but unpaid wages is real. The worker suffers, the immediate family and dependents suffer, society is worse off for harboring stress-filled human beings who are not proud to call themselves citizens and lifespan is gradually shortened. In the face of all of these, the so-called leaders live in the clouds, do little to redress the hopelessness and, at the same time, glory in their cluelessness on governance.

With the way Nigeria is structured or the states are made to function, there is no economy outside of civil service. If civil servants, teachers and the like are not paid, nothing else happens. What then obtains in Nigeria today is a cycle of distrust between governors and the governed who have been pauperized into submission.

While it is understandable that most of the problems that have brought about the shortfall in revenue are not unique to Nigeria, what does appear to be peculiar to Nigeria is the ease with which employers of labor abandon their obligations to pay salaries at the slightest of excuses. The failure to pay a worker his salary is one that is bound to have profound effect on the country.


The aim of this studies is to critically study about civil servants and the inconsistency of government in payment of workers monthly salary. The objectives are

1.     Find out causes of government inconsistency in paying worker salaries

2.     Investigate the effect of government inconsistency in paying workers’ salaries on the economy of Nigeria

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

Find What You Want By Category:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like