Workers in Kogi state have called on the state governor, Yahaya Bello to pay their outstanding salaries, saying they are dying of hunger due to non-payment of salaries by his administration.
Kogi state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Onuh Edoka, who spoke in Lokoja on behalf of thousands of workers at the 40th anniversary of NLC, told the governor that his policies are mostly anti workers.
He stated that the union is aware of the premature retirement and termination of workers’ appointment by the Bello administration.
According to him “Your excellency, workers sitting here today said I should ask you where is our salary. As your obedient servant, we are dying. As people who have contributed their quota in Kogi state and has left the service, as pensioners we are dying.
“To this end, we wish to compassionately appeal to you. We are aware that allocation came to Kogi state last month and by the statement of the commissioner for finance, what came as allocation to the state was put at N4.3billion and what came to local governments was put at N3.8billion. To this end, up till this moment, no salaries has been paid in Kogi state.
“We are already aware that as at yesterday, FAAC meeting has already been held and over N638billion have been shared and I know Kogi State government will have a share in it. Let our own not drop into river Niger again.”
The state NLC chairman used the event to speak on the alleged premature retirement of some workers, proscription of labour unions and the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by medical doctors in Kogi state.
“You will agree with me well that appointment in this government has been done upside down, junior workers are placed before their senior and the senior working under their junior.
“I will make it more clearer that this government for the first time in the history of the state introduced what they called percentage salaries to workers and pensioners.
“If civil service have been kept in this form before the coming of this administration, the civil service would have been in disarray.
“Medical doctors in Kogi state have been on strike for over one month. Our mothers, children are dying at home. For this obvious fact, we appeal to the state government to call our doctors on a round table and bring this matter to a conclusive end.
“Why the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have not joined any issues of strike is because we have come to the realization that strike may not be the solution to our problems any more. It is all about the person who is the chief executive and his state of mind on the development and welfare of workers.
“The proscription of unions in Kogi state is completely detrimental to the progress of democracy, unacceptable to Nigeria Labour Congress and completely illegal and we shall not stand by it any more.
“We should have it at the back of our mind that this voices that we are forcing to be silent today, time shall come when you will no longer be in government and you will require us.
“We will speak for the voiceless and the same voice will still speak again. We shall resist it with the last drop of our blood to see that we will not be tamed in any form or turn beggars in our own state” Comrade Edoka added.
Responding, the Kogi state governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello said the ongoing fight against corruption across the country would achieve greater success if the organised labour strengthens itself and work with government to fish out corrupt officials.
Bello urged the organised labour to, apart from its traditional role of fighting for the welfare of Nigerian workers, always play the role of whistle blowers to assist government in bringing to book corrupt officials in and outside the system.
The governor, who was represented at the occasion by his Deputy Elder Simon Achuba, congratulated the organised Labour for attaining the age of 40 and for its struggle over the years, enjoining the leadership of the union to always stand for what is good for the workers and the country.
He used the occasion to assure Kogi workers that very soon salaries will be paid as at when due, while urging them to continue to support the present administration of the state
He added that the difficulties experienced by governors across the country regarding timely payment of salaries would soon be over, urging civil servants to continue to pray and work with government to achieve the feat.
On his part, the former Head of Service of the state, Dr Moses Atakpa advised the organised labour to always engage the government in dialogue, saying dialogue is the best way to resolving crisis.