By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has reportedly reversed its decision to also slash workers’ salaries by 20 per cent due to the biting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
It was widely speculated within the state capital in the month of June that crisis was imminent as the state government planned to cut workers’ salaries.
However, some workers in the state who spoke to newsmen On Monday, in confidence said the state government may have bowed to pressure from the leadership of the organised Labour in the state to avert a crisis with the union.
Some of the workers wondered why the state government would want to slash their salaries on the ground of non-availability of funds and went ahead to appoint about 155 Special Assistants to the Governor recently.
It is even being currently rumoured in the state that the governor may appoint more personal Assistants soon.
The government was said to have been planning to deduct workers’ salaries before it was actually implemented in June, despite its agreement with the State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to put the deductions on hold.
When contacted, the State Secretary of NLC, Comrade Iboro Ebara confirmed the salary deductions but said the government has agreed to refund the deductions with the July salary.
He said, “The government has reviewed its decision and has promised to refund whatever was deducted during payment of July salary.
“On the appointment of SAs, I don’t think labour has ever argued with employment. We wish everyone could be employed. We don’t have any issue with people getting employed or empowered.
“I don’t think it is employment. The government is providing palliatives probably to supporters of PDP; it is allowed. They are citizens of Akwa Ibom State and if their income improves, it is good for the economy of Akwa Ibom,”
It could be recalled that while responding to questions during the routine interactive session with the citizens last Thursday, governor Udom Emmanuel had responded that he was not owing workers, attributing the deductions to a mistake.
“I am the one who came out to announce that I will pay a minimum wage of N30,000. Trust me not one penny will be below that minimum wage that we promised.
“We run a government of integrity. Where there are mistakes we are going to correct that. People should understand that nobody is above mistake” the governor had responded