Workers of Enugu State, Monday, conferred on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi the “Most Labour-friendly Governor Award in the history of Enugu State” in recognition of his administration’s development strides and commitment to their welfare, despite the severe economic crisis in the country.
The state workers, who were visibly joyful, noted that the award was also in appreciation of the governor’s sustained harmonious industrial relationship with the state work force, such as regular payment of salaries, pensions and other allowances on or before every 25th of the month, when many other states could not do so.
The ceremony, which climax was a match past by all the unions under the various ministries, parastatals, agencies, among others, witnessed for the first time, the pensioners of the state participating in the exercise in a joyful mood.
In his welcome address, the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for his administration’s feats in the prudent and transparent management of the Paris Club refund, especially the use of 100 % of the Local Governments’ share of the fund to offset the arrears of LG workers’ salaries and some pensions arrears owed pensioners in the 17 councils of the state.
Comrade Nwobodo , also added that the governor as a labour-friendly governor, has made the workers proud through “the promotion of teachers and recruitment of over 1300 primary school teachers as well as elongation of the terminal grade of qualified primary school teachers to level 16; absorption of 54% of total cost of the 100 housing units at Elim Estate allocated to workers within the junior and intermediate grades; implementation of 2006 approved scheme of service for local government employees in the state through the release of senior staff promotions with qualified workers progressing to grade 16 in all the departments; successful conduct of Biometric exercise at the state, among others.
While listing some demands, the labour leader, assured the governor of their support and cooperation, and called on the workers to sustain their current efforts towards service delivery for the benefit of the state.
The state Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe also applauded the governor for “the transparent disbursement of the N4.2 billion bailout fund for arrears of salaries and pensions of the state public servants” and “the ongoing massive infrastructural development in parts of Enugu metropolis and across the 17 local government areas of the state” in line with the vision to open up more rural areas for socio-economic expansion.
He also appreciated the governor for always identifying with the workers, saying that “Governor Ugwuanyi is the only governor who has attended the May Day celebration consecutively since the inception of his administration”.
In his response, Gov. Ugwuanyi who was delighted to see the pensioners participating in the match past with smiling faces, thanked the state chapter of the NLC for the honour bestowed on him barely a year the national body of the congress did same.
Describing Enugu State workers as “committed allies in the struggle to make the State a better place for all citizens”, Gov. Ugwuanyi noted that “while others are lamenting the harsh effects of the recession, we are forging ahead in all areas of development and strengthening the bonds that tie us together. Even our pensioners are not left out in the celebration of this new dawn as they now receive their pensions regularly”.
“We know of course, that these achievements are the result of our collective efforts as people of one family. You have indeed been there for us from the very first day. You have shown us understanding and patience and have freely given us your cooperation as we sought to navigate our way through the very difficult economic and social conditions that we met.
“I have nonetheless, taken due note of all the areas of concern that you have dutifully outlined and I want to assure you that, despite the daunting economic challenges currently facing us, the God that fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, will also make it possible for us to address and resolve these issues satisfactorily and comprehensively”, the governor stated.