The popular maxim: “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, have, exceedingly, played out on majority of Nigeria’s 36 State Governors, who owe their workers several months salaries arrears in their respective States. This key Governors’ migraine — non-payment of workers salaries for months — clearly underscores leadership deficit and bankruptcy in the country.
It has been traumatic experience for Nigerian workers living several months without salaries. Few days away, the curtain for the year 2017 will be drawn. It will be most tragic if the situation crosses over to 2018. Owing Nigerian workers salaries arrears for months, that drag on, at best, advertises the insensitivity of the Governors involved.
There is an outstanding difference to this absurdity. Ebonyi State organized labour, comprising Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, Monday, in Abakaliki, conferred the title “Enyi Ndi Oru” — translated “Friend Of Workers” to Governor Dave Umahi. This was during a rally organized by the industrial unions in the State.
Leonard Nkah, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ebonyi State said: “Umahi deserved to be honoured by Ebonyi workers as they receive their monthly salary on the 15th of every month. Pensioners are also not owed in Ebonyi; a governor who showed manifest love and interest on the welfare of workers, deserved recognition by the entire Ebonyi workforce”.
At Monday’s rally, Nkah, on behalf of Ebonyi workforce, thanked Governor Umahi for being favourably disposed towards workers and pledged their continued support for his administration. His words: “We therefore gathered to re-affirm this support as you pulled the state from the brink of collapse, occasioned by backwardness, poverty, corruption, poor state of infrastructure, among others”.
He added: “You have steadily paid workers’ salaries and gratuities and made history by paying us 13th month bonus salary when other states with higher Federal Government allocation battled to pay basic salaries”. He thanked the governor for integrating workers in the state government’s agricultural policies which enabled them engage in several agricultural ventures to supplement their earnings.
After being honoured with the title “Enyi Ndi Oru” by the workers, Governor Umahi promised to sustain his workers friendly policies. He said: “We do not owe workers salaries and allowances, and I commend the organized labour leadership in the state for realizing that the era of pursuing agitations through strike, coercion, lying, intimidation, among others, is gone”.
Governor Umahi demonstrated further gestures to the workers. As a show of appreciation for the conduct of the leadership of labour in the State, he said the workers would receive 50 per cent of their salaries on Jan.2, 2018. His words: “This would serve as a palliative before the payment of your January 2018 salaries and your leave allowances would from the same period, be paid as part of your salaries”.
Umahi added: “We would also maintain the payment of salaries and other allowances between the 15th and 20th of January and recommend you for commendation and promotion from your national leadership”. He announced government donation of 66,000 bags of 25kg rice to workers as part of their Christmas celebration, and directed that each worker should collect at least two bags each.