The Organised Labour in Kogi on Wednesday said that workers would determine the next governor of the state come November 2.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Onu Edoka, stated this at the 2019 Workers’ Day (May Day) celebration at Confluence Stadium, Lokoja.
According to him, if only the Independent National Electoral Commission would make their votes count, workers would decide the next governor of the state on November 2.
Edoka said: “Workers have the power to determine the next governor of the state and would prove it in the state governorship election slated for November 2, if only the Independent National Electoral Commission would make our votes count.”
He, therefore, urged Governor Yahaya Bello to clear up the arrears of salaries owed workers in the state within the shortest possible time.
He said: “If you pay our salaries, leave bonuses and implement our promotions, we assure you that we shall stand by you.”
Edoka maintained his stance that the state government owed its workers between seven and 30 months salaries.
He urged the government to stop propaganda and face the reality to ascertain the actual indebtedness of the state to its workers.
The labour leader, however, urged government to clear up the arrears of salary and implement the new National Minimum Wage, adding that government should do everything possible to prevent workers from taking to the street.
Edoka also decried the position of pensioners in the state and appealed to the state government to look into their plight and save them from the precarious situations.
He noted that some of them, whose names were removed from the payroll never found their way back while lucky few whose names came back lost many months.
The labour chairman urged government to embark on massive recruitment of staff into the state civil service, saying there were too few junior level workers, more so that retired public officers were being brought in to occupy positions.
He said: “It will be very dangerous for the state government to continue this way where retired people are made to occupy positions meant for serving civil servants.”
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release N30.8 billion, being the balance of the bail out to Kogi, saying that outside of the N50.8 billion former Gov. Idris Wada applied for, N20 billion was released to Governor Bello.
Edoka said Bello paid four months arrears with the release and urged President Buhari to release the balance of N30.8 billion for government to settle more arrears.
In his response, Governor Bello said that the state government would not pretend there were no unresolved issues, but utmost on his agenda presently was how to finally settle unpaid salaries to genuine workers.
Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Ayoade-Arike, however, contended that the state government owed its workers only five months salary.
He maintained that the last salary paid was that of November, 2018.
He said that genuine workers had earlier been cleared, while those in other categories and possibly being owed were those cleared later by the screening committee, adding that it all depended on when they were cleared.
On the N30,000 new National Minimum Wage, the governor said that government would meet with labour leaders and decide on a workable modalities to adopt for its implementation.
He noted that payment of teachers’ salaries was now on first line charge.
He said: “We are going to key into the new National Minimum Wage.
“Leadership of the Organised Labour in the state have been consistent in partnering with us and we will always be straight forward with them.”