Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has kept the promise of prompt payment of workers’ salaries on the 25th of every month when most states in the country have not paid their workers in the last two months due to the disagreement between state governors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the sharing of the national revenue. On the 25th of July, 2018, all the workers and pensioners in Anambra State smiled home with their July salaries, that is, before the month ended.
The governors of most of the other states of the country have not been able to meet with monthly salary payments and other commitments because of the standoff over petrol subsidy payment between the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In fact, some state governors owe workers up to 10 months.
According to the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, “Governor Willie Obiano is one of the few governors who has continued to pay salaries and pensions in spite of all odds and will continue to pay religiously within the foreseeable future. This is one of the benefits of having a seasoned professional in accounting and auditing at the helm as the governor of the state. Obiano is not only a fellow of ICAN but a patron of the body, and has deployed his skills in ensuring adequate savings to sustain the payment in case of emergencies like this. Govenor Obiano has even said he would sustain the payment for over six months if the monthly allocation from the federation account is not paid in the next six months.”
One factor Governor Obiano has going for him is his prudent economic management. It is on this account that Anambra is about the only state in the federation still employing fresh workers. Now that other states have placed embargo on employment, Anambra State will soon engage 1,000 teachers, made up of 500 at the primary level and 500 in secondary schools.
Anambra State created the record of being the first government to announce, articulate and implement a stimulus package during the past recession. The poorest people, for instance, were exempted from paying taxes and revenues.
Governor Obiano equally holds the record of leading a government that has raised salaries upwards across board on two occasions. Even as the salaries were raised the workers continued to receive their bank alerts promptly which led to the workforce fondly calling Chief Obiano “The Alert Governor!”
The Debt Management Office (DMO) lists Anambra as the least-indebted state in the entire country. This is indeed a miraculous achievement given that Governor Obiano continues apace to build roads, bridges and the multiform infrastructure that have turned Anambra State into Nigeria’s new investment destination.
On how he has been able to meet up with all the commitments without owing any salaries whatsoever, Governor Obiano told the London-based Africa Today magazine of November/December 2016, “First I receive my daily briefing on my account position. I set targets for the guys pushing the IGR so every time I know how much I have because we are still building up our IGR – I told you I inherited between N450-500 million per month but we have moved to N1.2 billion and I am hoping to get to N2.2 billion. Then I make sure all the civil servants salaries and pensions are paid first.”
For the all-action governor who has his finger on the pulse of Anambra State, it is after making sure that the salary matters are sorted out that the fund coming from the federal allocation is channeled to other development projects.
Despite the fact that Governor Obiano inherited a bloated civil service he had to deploy technology to boost the operations of the state. Virtually everything being done in Anambra State is now technology-driven. This way, the government has been able to use technology to fish out all the ghost workers, thus saving the state a significant amount of money.
Governor Obiano takes the credit for being the first to do the Single Treasury Account (TSA), in his words: “As soon as I assumed office I moved all the accounts into a single account until I understood very clearly what they were doing. That also saved us a lot of money. In Anambra, we have a due process tenders committee, the way it is structured in banks, and very well manned by capable people with consultants to advice and guide in the bidding process.”
Given this prudent management, Governor Obiano has stayed on top of all the problems earlier confronting Anambra State. He has been able to check the activities of the touts who cornered all levels of IGR such that money ended up not getting into the government’s coffers. He has aggressively blocked all the leakages to ensure that all the monies get to the government. Governor Obiano reveals that 95 percent of the IGR collection is driven by technology while the remaining five percent is collected in a few places where the government uses Point of Sale (POS) machines to make the collection instead of cash.
With what Ndi Anambra call the “Obiano effect” in place, workers and pensioners of Anambra State are assured of their regular pay on the 25th of every month with or without the monthly federal allocation.
- Uzoatu is a poet and journalist based in Lagos