President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that salaries of Federal Government workers be paid by today to enable Muslim faithful celebrate Eid el-Fitr this weekend, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.
"Mr. President has ordered an expedited salary payment in view of Sallah holidays that are coming up. We are happy to announce that between today and tomorrow, all those in the Federal payroll should be able to collect their salaries and have a good holiday. This is based on the directive of Mr President," the minister told a news conference in Abuja yesterday.
This is not the first time that the President was directing for early salary payment to workers, most of whom hardly get paid before month end, but the last such directive did not materialise. In January, he instructed salary payment by 20th of the month to help cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal but that directive was not implemented for no clear reason.
"As part of measures to address the discomfort and pains the citizens are going through, Mr. President had directed that by the 20th of this month, salaries in the public service should be paid," Information Minister Labaran Maku announced on January 4 at the end of an emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council in the wake of the subsidy removal protests.
But a week into February, the salaries were not paid because of what officials at the account general's office said were problems caused by the national strike.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala did not say yesterday what steps were taken to ensure the execution of the president's latest orders on early salary payment.
Most federal workers receive their monthly salaries well into the following month, and in many cases get owed salaries for several months.