June 19, 2009

Elechi aides blamed for Ebonyi labour unrest

By Dennis Agbo

ABAKALIKI- Commissioners, Advisers and close aides in Governor Martin Elechi’s kitchen cabinet have been accused of being responsible for almost all the problems that the Ebonyi State government is having with the organised labour in the state, especially with the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital (EBSUTH) that has remained shut down for three months running.

Among those fingered by the labour union in the state include the state Commissioner for Public Utilities Celestine Nwali, Commissioner for Donor Agencies Fred Udeogo, Secretary to the State Government Fide Mbam, Deputy Governor Chigozie Ogbu, and State Head of Service F.U. Aliu among others.

The organized labour in the state is of the opinion that Governor Elechi’s aides are in the habit of preventing dissenting voices from speaking their minds directly to the governor but prefer giving the governor diluted and most times negative impressions on most sensitive issues.

Chairman of EBSUTH doctors who are on strike, Dr. Ifeanyi Umoke with the Managing Director of Eastern Bulkcem Company Limited, core investor in Nigercem, had in separate briefings lamented how all efforts to meet directly with Governor Elechi failed which in turn created wider gulf in their separate disagreements.

But pointing accusing fingers to Udeogu, Nwali and the Head of service as  the main cause of frustration in dealings  with government, the Deputy General Secretary of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) Comrade Chimere Nwugo told Vanguard that ; “at the inception of the EBSUTH strike, I asked the CMD, Aja, to call the House of Assembly Speaker, Nwali, Udeogu and the deputy governor to go and inform them that these people will go on strike but Dr. Aja said that they don’t allow him see the governor one on one.

“The Head of service too is not helping matters because there is an institutionalized negotiation in labour which is the NJPNC but the NJPNC does not exist on the government side let alone meeting us and the head of service says he does not recognize the trade union side.

“Therefore the problem is that those who milk the state dry deny us the opportunity of meeting the governor and the danger is that the governor allows political appointees who have vested interests to give him second hand information. The governor should meet with labour directly to understand problems he has in the state,” advised Nwugo whose younger brother in the House of Assembly  was recently controversially  suspended.