Youth coalition and various interest groups in Ekiti State on Thursday staged a pro-government rally in solidarity with the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration.
The protesters, which comprised okada riders, drivers’ unions, market women and artisans, led by their respective leaders, who flaunted placards of various inscriptions to commend Fayemi for his people-oriented programmes, were drawn from all the 16 local government areas of the state.
The coalition hit hard at the local government workers, who, on Wednesday, trooped to the streets under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, to protest the non-implementation of the N19,300 minimum wage at the local government level, while their counterparts in the core civil service had started benefiting from May, 2012.
NULGE members, led by their state President, Comrade Dele Ajayi; the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayodeji Aluko; and the National Treasurer of the union, Comrade Oluyemi Esan, had stormed the streets of Ado Ekiti on Wednesday where they lambasted the state government for allegedly punishing them by delaying the implementation of the minimum wage for council workers.
The pro-government protesters massed as early as 8am at the popular Fajuyi Park, where they marched in large number in the presence of scores of security agents to Okesa Junction, where they were addressed by Fayemi, who just arrived the state last night after three weeks holiday overseas.
Fayemi, who fumed at the action of the local government workers, said no amount of threat from them or series of protests would make him back down on his resolve to complete the biometric exercise at the third tier of government before commencing the payment.
The governor stated that he had not committed any offence by asking the workers to wait for the outcome of the staff auditing in all the councils before implementing the payment.
Describing Wednesday’s rally as political and misguided, Fayemi maintained that “nothing will make me pay the money until the system is sanitised and ensure that ghost workers and those living in Lagos and Sokoto and are receiving salaries from the council areas are fished out.
“I can’t because of 22,000 workers at the local government level abandon about 2.5 million population in Ekiti. I won’t join them in their politics because this is not time for politics, but when the time of politics come they will see pepper.”
He assured the workers that all the arrears will be paid as soon as the state government knows all the authentic workers.
The governor added: “If you noticed the programmes I am executing, you will see that I have not been sectional or political, so I can’t be so wicked to the extent that I will deprive a section of workers certain benefit.
“Before we started the payment at the state level, we conducted data capturing system, popularly called biometric data, to ascertain the workforce and that we are doing at the local government areas now.
“So, before we start paying, we will ensure that sanity is restored and ghost workers and those frittering Ekiti money are stopped from the act.”
Addressing the rally, the Chairman of Market Women in Ekiti State, Mrs. Waye Oso, who appealed to the council workers to embrace dialogue rather than confrontation, said the rally was meant to gear the governor up and spur him to carry out more development programmes the way things have been going in Ekiti.
The Chairmen of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria and National Union of Road Transport Workers, Messrs Rotimi Olabiwonu and Oso Farotimi, said the people should resist those that are poised at destabilising the state and plunge the government into unwarranted crisis.