Another wave of unrest is threatening to unsettle some states in Nigeria after the worrisome EndSARS hurricane. The organised labour is currently bracing to hit states that have been foot-dragging on its demands with a strike gale.
In Akwa Ibom and Borno, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has already threatened indefinite strike action if the Udom Emmanuel and the Babagana Zulum administrations failed to meet their demands.
Labour in Borno State has given the state government two weeks ultimatum to sack the Head of state’s Biometric Unit, Adamu Bako, or brace for a strangulating industrial action.
Labour also wants Governor Zulum to immediately constitute a probe panel to look into a recent Award to some personalities and sources of funding for such a lavish show.
NLC Chairman in the state, Bulama Abiso, said in Maiduguri, the state capital, that Zulum should sack Bako, as well as probe sources of funding the awards.
‘’Labour is demanding for an investigation into sources of funds expended to hold award ceremony. We also demand the immediate removal of head of biometric unit, Adamu Bako with immediate effect’’, the NLC chief said.
Continuing, he said there are evidence to show that many workers across the state, are yet to be captured or captured, and yet not paid their salaries and retirement benefits.
While lamenting nonpayment of workers’ promotion benefits, annual increments and leave grants, he said, ‘’the non-payments of these workers’ benefits, leave and transport grants, as well as annual increments, are for 2017, 2019 and 2020.’’
While also claiming that these are outstanding labour issues bordering the ongoing biometric exercise of civil servants working and retired, he notes that due to this ugly development, workers remain hopeless and unattended to since the commencement of the biometric exercise in 2014.
According to him, it is, therefore; surprising a unit responsible for all these hardships and suffering of workers will be giving awards to some individuals. This is in total disregard to “plights and insensitivity” of serving and retired workers.
NLC is, therefore, questioning the rationale behind the awards. At a colourful ceremony last week; awards were to Governor Zulum, the former governor of the state, Senator Kashim Shetima, Secretary to the State Government, Usman Shuwa, Head of Service, Simon Malgwi, Commissioners of Finance, Works, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR), Adamu Lawan, Yerima Saleh and Mustapha Gubio.
Other awardees of Bako Biometric unit are, Yakubu Bukar, Mohammed Hassan and Dr. Bulama Mali Gubio, former HoS’s and Umar Ka’ana, the current Accountant General of the state.
Besides labour’s demand for probe and sack of Bako, it is also condemning the funding of the recently held awards. Adamu Lawan, Commissioner works, Arch. Yerima Sale, Commissioner for RRR, Engr Mustapha Gubio, as well as Barrister Yakubu Bukar, Alh. Mohammed Hassan and Dr Bulama
Mali Gubio all former heads of service and Alhaji Umar Ka’ana, Accountant General of Borno state and some selected of the unit. Labour has condemned in it’s totally the award and demanded for the probe of public fund use in finding the ceremony and removal of the head of unit.
He said since the beginning of biometric exercise, 89 workers are yet to be captured, including 150 pensioners and a number of captured workers, but not paid, adding that Bako claimed that over N500 million has been saved, despite outstanding issues of workers benefits, promotional increments, leave and transports grants.
While responding to his sack yesterday, Bako said: “I will not comment until I receive authorization from the HoS to speak.”
From Akwa Ibom, the threat and ultimatum was contained in a communique jointly signed and issued by NLC Chairperson, Sunny James and Acting Secretary, Iboro Ibara, after State Executive Council (SEC) Emergency Meeting held on Monday.
While NLC leadership says it has furthered sent the ultimatum to the Governor’s office and has also copied security agencies in readiness for action, it has also given Governor Udom Emmanuel a 14-day ultimatum to address their concerns or they will embark on strike.
Labour decries the state government’s alleged continued refusal to address the multitude of issues affecting, to a large extent, the survival of workers and retirees in Akwa Ibom, and the well-being of Congress.
‘’SEC-in-session has consequently resolved to stretch its patience for 14 days beginning from midnight of Tuesday, October 27, 2020, within which their grievances should be resolved’’, NLC says.
Its concerns include: Payment of 2020 leave grant to all civil servants; 2018- 2020 leave grant to workers in the Local Government Service and 2015, 2017- 2020 leave grant to primary school teachers.
Labour is calling for an immediate end to the use of what it describes as ‘’dubious and recalcitrant Salary Consultants’’ to manage the state’s civil service payroll. It is also demanding a reversal to qualified payroll officers within the service who are eminently qualified to do the same job.
“It is evident that the plight of retired primary school teachers and next-of-kin amongst others will not be put to rest if their services continue to be retained. There must be an immediate end to the encroachment on the land earlier allocated by the government to the organised labour at Ikpedip lbiono/lkot Ide, Itak.
“Immediate implementation of promotions and payment of accrued promotion arrears to civil servants in the state and stoppage of the obnoxious policy of notional promotion in the state civil service”, NLC says, and accordingly demanded that the state government should immediately clear the backlog of gratuities to retirees in the state.
It is as follows: Retirees of the state civil service from April 2016 to the present; retirees of the local government service from 2012 to the present; retired primary school teachers from 2010 to the present and; Next-of-kin especially primary school teachers from 1989 to the present.
They are equally demanding for the immediate payment of the December 2019 arrears of minimum wage to all Akwa Ibom workers and the January 2020 minimum wage arrears already paid to other civil servants to primary school teachers.
Continuing, it said the state government should immediately release funds for the refund of the 7.5 per cent Contributory Pensions to primary school teachers and all such civil servants that did not get their refunds.
While demanding for the immediate harmonisation of pensions for all State Government retirees in compliance with Extant Laws, NLC calls for the immediate harmonisation of pensions for all state government retirees in compliance with Extant Laws.
Part of the resolution reads, “conclusion of action on the revalidation of the 403 Local Government health workers who were delisted from the payroll in July 2019 while others who were similarly affected (non-health workers) should also be revalidated and reinstated.
“Immediate recall of the four sacked labour leaders of Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, Onna Local Government Area, and immediate resuscitation of Peacock Paints Limited at Etinan and Akwa Savings and Loans Limited and appointment of new Board Members with relevant experience to replace the current obsolete Board.
“Workers of the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) should immediately be paid their outstanding salary from January 2020 to date. The state government should expedite action on the completion of the Ikot Oku Ikono-Abak Road Junction overpass.”
NLC stresses that failure of the government to accede to their outlined demands it shall embark on an indefinite strike without further notice.