Following the reported plan by the state leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the National Leadership of the Labour Union to stage a protest in the state over the suspended parastatal staff and considering the long-time cordial relationship that has been existing between the government of Governor Rochas Okorocha and the Labour Union since 2011 when he began his first tenure, the governor has appealed to the leadership of the NLC in the state and at the National level to drop their planned protest.
His Excellency has wished that instead of embarking on the protest that might end up not benefitting anyone, the National Leadership of the NLC should be patriotic enough to advise the leadership of the NLC in the state to honour their invitations to participate in the High-Powered 18 – member Committee set up by the state Governor to review the cases of the staff affected by the suspension in question, so that the matter can be resolved amicably in the spirit of no victor, no vanguished.
The committee would have been inaugurated last Tuesday, but the inauguration could not take place because the Labour Representatives did not come for the exercise.
The committee has the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman in the state, chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), chairman Nigeria Medical Association, Imo State chapter, chairman National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Representative of Magistrates Association, Representative of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) IMSU, Imo Polytechnic, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), chairman of Imo State branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Representative of the Judiciary Service Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN) as members.
On the part of the Government, the Head of Service, Principal Secretary to the Governor, the Attorney General, the Accountant General, Commissioner of Finance, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Pricipal Secretary to the Deputy Governor are also members of the committee. The chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri is equally a member.
This is a high-profiled committee and the governor believes that with this calibre of people in the committee whatever is the bone of contention between the government and the Labour Union in the state over the suspension issue can be resolved.
The government has repeatedly explained that the suspension of the parastatal workers was not an outright sack or dismissal. The suspension was to enable the new managements of the establishments involved to take off in earnest.
So, the essence of the 18-member committee is to look at the cases of these workers and decide whether to post all of them out to other government ministries and establishments or to even ask some of them to go back to the parastatals. And until the committee sits and takes decision on the suspended workers, nobody could accuse the government of any wrong doing.
Interestingly, the Labour Leadership has never said that the government should not fix these parastatals and agencies to make them productive but only concerned about the fate of the suspended workers. And we share with their sentiment. Hence, the governor is appealing that the Labour Leaders should honour their membership of the committee set up to resolve whatever is the crux of the matter. Protest of any kind can not be the solution.
The government is also worried that some power hungry politicians who lost the 2015 governorship election in the state but have continued to fan the embers of hatred and confusion may infiltrate the protest with their thugs they have not been able to disarm since after the election, and what will be the outcome of such scenario no one can predict.
This is why the governor is appealing passionately to both Comrade Austin Chilakpa – led NLC in the state and the Comrade Ayuba Wabba – led NLC at the National level to consider the option of resolving the issue peacefully rather than embarking on protest that ultimately would not be the panacea to the issue at stake. We except the inflinching cooperation of the Labour Leaders in the circumstance.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.