Dysfunction Persists In Nigeria, Despite Power Shift

public housing for those displaced by bridge construction
public housing for those displaced by bridge construction

Apr. 25, 2016 (GIN) – Despite the guiding hand of a new president and a massive bailout by the Federal Government last year, salaries of government workers in most of Nigeria’s 36 states have not been paid – in some cases as long as nine months.

According to local media, the states were in dire straits by the middle of last year and were given bailouts totaling billions of dollars. Most of them had been unable to pay workers and carry out basic functions of government.

Those who are managing to pay have slashed salaries between 30 to 50 percent, while others have stopped funding paid leave, pensions and other worker entitlements, according to local reports. The most affected are primary and secondary school teachers, health workers, and traditional rulers.
Last year, a complaint was filed with the U.N.’s International Labor Organization on behalf of Nigerian government workers by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a Nigerian nonprofit that promotes “transparency and accountability” in the public and private spheres.

Doctors too say they have been going without pay. At Lagos University Teaching Hospital, according to the daily Vanguard, wages are paid months late. A strike is threatened.

The Nigerian government also faces backlash from evolving plans to demolish some 800 decades-old shanty structures obstructing a 4th Mainland Bridge connecting Lagos to wealthy island-based offices and gated communities. Under the last administration, some 3,000 structures were demolished after 72 hours’ notice as the city trumpeted the building of a “Venice of Africa.”

Finally, the human rights group Amnesty International is demanding an investigation into the killings of hundreds of the country’s minority Shia Muslim men, women and children by the Nigerian military.

“The report, Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria, contains shocking eyewitness testimony of large-scale unlawful killings by the Nigerian military and exposes a crude attempt by the authorities to destroy and conceal evidence,” Amnesty wrote on its website.

A judicial commission of inquiry in Kaduna is expected to hear testimony this week from the military on the existence of the mass graves.

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