Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state Thursday accused the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Mr Joe Ajaero of politicising labour activities in the state.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after receiving the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial flag from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ahead of the November 11, 2023, gubernatorial election, the governor said the NLC President failed to differentiate between labour issues and his interest in local politics.
The governor said the state government under his leadership was not owing salaries of workers as alleged by the labour leader.
He said since he assumed office in January 2020, the state government has been up-to-date on salary payments.
“When I came into Imo State as the governor on January 15th 2020, from 2020 January till date, there’s no month we have not paid salary before 30th. The situation is that before this time, I thought that the trade union is a democratic entity that allows the opinion of people.
“I don’t pay federal civil servants, I only pay Imo State civil servants and I challenged any Imo State civil servants to come out and say that between 2020 January 15th till date, that he has not received salary in any of the month.
“What has happened in this ugly incident that the national president of Nigeria Labour Congress is from Imo State and has not been able to demarcate the difference between being a national leader of an organisation and an interested party in local politics. But God will manage the situation,” he said.
Reminded that the workers were accusing him of reneging on January 2021 agreement aside the backlog of salaries and this might impact his re-election, the governor said: “Well, I still repeat, there’s no worker in Imo State…recall I came in January 2020 and by March, I started paying minimum wage of N30,000 that had been lying there, that previous leadership couldn’t pay. By December 2020 I paid 13th month, the first time on the history of Imp State civil service and I have maintained continuously this 13th month payment as an incentive.
“I automated the payment system. Salaries are now received in an automated manner in Imo State. I brought new innovations, I reformed the civil service. No wonder in the civil service the entire Labour Congress of Imo State chapter endorsed me and I am the only candidate they are supporting in the election. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners endorsed me, from 2007 to 2020, no civil servants in Imo State received gratuity. It is only my government that has now floated bond to pay outstanding gratuities to civil servants.
“So, I understand the sensitivity of this event but I want you people to be very careful because there’s an attempt to mix up partisan politics or an attempt to blackmail my government. But I can tell you that my people are already aware and that was why the Nigerian Labour Congress Imo State chapter, addressed a World Press Conference, that what their national leadership is saying is not correct. And that they are not coming to do any strike or protests. And in the process they decided to resolve them to put in a care taker.
“Of course, I am the chief security officer and I have the responsibility to intervene. I encouraged the national leadership not to devolve the management team that their tenure have not expired and that was what they did.
“I don’t interfere in Labour matters but I have convinced my workers in Imo State to believe in me and is that trust that the opposition parties are trying to fight. But I can assure you that Imo people already have taken their decision. 11th November is by the corner,” he said.