By Samuel Oyadongha, Simon Ebegbulem, Egufe Yafugborhi, Harris-Okon Emmanuel & Chioma Onuegbu
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, has said that labour has failed Nigerians by refusing to act in the face of unbridled killings of defenceless Nigerians across the country.
This came as Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, in their respective states, yesterday, told workers of plans they had put in place to improve their wellbeing.
They spoke as workers marked the Workers Day, yesterday.
Governor Wike said it was uncharitable for labour to be only concerned about salary increment when their kith and kin are mauled to death on a daily basis.
In an address during the 2018 Workers Day in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said: “Labour is only after the increment of wages and emoluments without showing concern for the mass killings going on across different states of the federation.
“Labour is quiet in the face of deaths. Of what benefit will increment of salaries be when all your children, friends and relatives are killed in the course of this national insecurity? It is incumbent on labour to rise up in defence of Nigerians by demanding for immediate cessation of killings.”
Governor Wike said that Labour has a duty to work towards the progress of Nigeria as they battle for their welfare. He said that labour must rekindle their pre-2015 posture when they participated in occupy Nigeria during the Jonathan era.
The governor urged labour to defend the nation’s democracy which is under threat by the failure of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Federal Government to respect the rule of law and democratic tenets.
“Be vigilant and defend our democracy in 2019. That is what labour is known for. Labour thrives under democracy. Without democracy, labour will run into challenges,” he said.
He said that the state was investing in building a strong economy that will enable workers earn decent wages, empower entrepreneurs to create jobs and provide improved livelihood opportunities for Rivers people.
He said: “We have approved an interest-free revolving loan scheme for civil servants. The annual sum earmarked for this programme is N1.2 billion, with a monthly disbursement of N100 million.
“We have also approved another interest-free loan for owners of small businesses to access to enhance their businesses, create jobs and grow the economy. An annual sum of N2.4 million only, has been set-aside for this purpose with a monthly disbursement of N200 million only”
In her address, Rivers State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Mrs Beatrice Otubo, commended the governor for his regular payment of salaries and pensions.
She urged him to take steps to resolve the challenges surrounding the contributory pension scheme and gratuity to retired civil servants. The labour leader also commended Governor Wike for his outstanding developmental strides.
Chairman of Trade Union Congress in Rivers State, Mr Austin Jonah, lauded the state governor for his numerous infrastructural and development projects across the state.
The Workers Day was marked by parade by all the affiliate trade unions in the state, with Governor Wike taking the official salute.
In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Emmanuel said that his administration was up to date with the payment of pensioners in the state.
The governor, who addressed workers at the Uyo Town Stadium, said nobody can say that the state government was owing him or her pension.
“We have cleared the arrears of pensioners to the last kobo. And we are going to clear the gratuities of the workers. If you see anybody complaining about not being paid his or her pension, ask whether he was a worker.”
The governor sued for a peaceful environment for development to thrive, as according to him, no meaningful development can be achieved in a rancorous atmosphere.
He said: “I feel your pains, I feel your joy and I will not be glad to see you in pains. I appeal that it is time to consider the contributory pension scheme. Let us see the vision in it because it is helpful. I have put machinery in place on the affordable housing for workers because it is their project and they should work together with the head of service.”
State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr Etim Ukpong, commended the governor for prompt payment of salaries, the release of the 2015/16 promotion of the workers, among other policy implementation.
In Edo State, Governor Obaseki yesterday, said that his administration had approved the release of N1.5 billion from the Paris Club refund to liquidate the outstanding local government pension arrears.
Obaseki, who disclosed this at the Workers Day celebration in Benin City, also rolled out bumper packages for workers, job seekers and pensioners in the state which include recruitment of new hands, approval of outstanding promotions and provision of social housing for workers in the state.
Commending the workers for their support in the implementation of the policies of his administration, the governor noted that capacity building forms a huge part of the reforms in the civil service.
On social housing for workers, he said the state was working with partners to develop a package to provide housing to workers in the state.
In their speeches, Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in the state, Mr Emmanuel Ademokun and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress , TUC, Mr Marshall Orhue, commended the governor for prompt payment of workers’ salaries, infrastructural development, reforms in the state’s basic education sector and economy.
In Bayelsa State, workers, yesterday, marked the May Day celebration in Yenagoa with a declaration of support for the on-going civil service reforms embarked upon by the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
The workers, who gathered at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and Trade Union Congress TUC, and received salute from the state Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (retd), said that though the on-going reforms in the civil service should be handled with care, “the reforms are intended to reposition the public service for better productivity.”
Mr Bipre Ndiomu, the state Chairman of NLC, while reading the joint position of the labour unions and TUC said the labour unions believe in building institutions that will sustain the policies of government for future generations.
He said: “We are of the view that the reforms are intended to reposition the public service for better productivity.
“Congress, therefore, calls on government to ensure that the reform are in line with the public service rules.”
The NLC Chairman however, called on the state government to consider redeployment rather than termination of appointment when considering the issue workers who were wrongly placed at the point of their engagement.
“Labour again, wishes to appeal to government to ensure that the ongoing reforms will not lead to the sack of any genuine worker in service,” he noted.