Following the disagreement between the Imo State Government and the organized Labour Unions in the state over the suspension of staff of certain Parastatals, the National officers of the All Progressives Congress, APC, led by its National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun were in the state to have first-hand information and assessment of the situation, with Chief Oyegun calling on the Labour leaders to cooperate with Governor Okorocha in his effort to make things work in the state.
Chief Oyegun and his team including the National Secretary of the Party, Hon. Mala Buni, Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Segun Oni, National Treasurer, Bala Mohammadu and National Vice-Chairman, South-East, Chief Emma Enechukwu, had arrived Imo Tuesday night and held a meeting that lasted for hours with Governor Okorocha and also had opportunity of talking with the Labour leaders, which culminated in a press conference Wednesday morning.
At the press parley, Chief Oyegun commended Governor Okorocha for agreeing to negotiate with the labour leaders for the quick resolve of the problem, calling on labour to show understanding with the government following the realities on ground with the fall in oil prices.
Hear Oyegun, “Labour should put the realities on ground into consideration while negotiating with government especially when considered that the government took proper care of the workers when things were well. The APC took power when the state of the nation was in a total collapse. There is need for sacrifice. Sacrifice is important as whatever is been passed through now is temporal as the party is poised to take the nation out of the current crisis.”
He continued, “APC as a party agrees with the governor that it is not proper to borrow money for salary payment as that will be a dead end and totally unsustainable. The governor has done well. I commend the state government for its continued infrastructural development despite the shortfall in revenue allocation. The government’s plan to have a factory in each of the wards in the state is a wonderful idea that should be supported by every good indigene of the state. And we are going to encourage other APC states to do the same.”
The National Chairman stated that his team was convinced that the governor’s action was in the overall interest of the people of the state; and he however enjoined both the government and the labour leaders to demonstrate flexibility in their dialogue aimed at resolving the issue.
In his speech, Governor Okorocha said his “action was not for personal benefits, or to enhance his political career, but for the overall interest of Imo people. The government of APC in Imo state has lived up to expectation and has kept faith with the campaign promises.”
The governor remarked “on the issue of the suspension of some Health and Parastatal workers, I made it clear four years ago when I became governor that their welfare will be my priority and that faith I kept and workers were paid as at when due, even before due in some cases.”
He further stated, “it’s on record that Imo state government pays their workers salary far above most states in the federation, in some cases three times what other states are paying just to make sure that the Imo workers are comfortable. We have done what we can with the available resources given to us to keep faith with workers’ demand. And suffice it to say that despite all these efforts made, the desired result has not been yielding by the workers. ”
His words,”Imo state despite being an oil producing state gets one of the least allocations from the federal government and that has not helped matters. For the past ten months Imo has been getting between N1.9bn and N2.3bn monthly with a wage bill of over N4bn. The state had to look for external sources to make up to pay salaries every month and take care of its other obligations.”
“The need to make some adjustments in the present situation becomes inevitable so as to save the state from collapse. Meetings have been had with the leadership of the workers from time to time but unfortunately they have not kept faith with the agreements reached. The issue of concession was prompted to make the parastatals and health outfits functional. These parastatals and hospitals are not provided for only payment of salaries, but to render services to the people of the state.”
“Workers of Imo state will not be fair to embark on any strike because my government has been so nice to them and has treated them better than any government had done when things were better. I understand their situation and their situation will not help the development of the state and I have decided to take the bull by the horn to finally fix the foundation of the state which for long has cracked as government upon government has kept patching the wall which may collapse one day and fall on the population. Hence, we need to fix the foundation.” he said.