Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma, on Thursday, accused President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero, of mixing politics with unionism.
According to Uzodinma, Ajaero as an indigene of Imo State, has been involved in local politics.
The governor, who denied masterminding Wednesday’s attack on the labour leader, spoke after receiving the flag of the ruling All Progressives Congress as the governorship candidate of the party in the November 11 election from President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking with State House reporters, Uzudinma said it took his intervention before the NLC leaders in his state, who were suspended and replaced with caretaker committee, were reinstated.
He said the embattled Ajaero went ahead with protest when the state chapter, which had backed his second term bid, had dissociated themselves from the action.
Uzodinma also dismissed the insinuation that Imo State owed civil servants, explaining that he had automated the payment of salaries and had continued to pay N30,000 minimum wage and 13th month since January 15, 2020 when he was sworn in as governor.
He said, “I think it’s a very good opportunity for me to clear this so-called allegation. I came to Imo State as the governor January 15, 2020. From 2020 January till date, there is no month we did not pay salary before 30th. But the situation is that, before this time, I thought that the labour 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 challenge any Imo State civil servant to come up to say that between 2020 January 5 till date that he/she did not receive salary in any of the months.
“What has happened in this ugly coincidence is that the national president of the 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 then an interested party in local politics. But God would manage the situation.”
Reminded that it was reported that he reneged on an agreement reached with the labour in 2021, Uzodinma said, “I still repeat….recall that I came in January 2020. By March, I started paying minimum wage of 30,000 that has been lying there, that previous leadership didn’t pay. By December, I paid 13th month; the first time in the history of Imo civil service and I’ve maintained continuously this 13th month payment as an incentive. I automated the payment systems. Salaries are now received in an automated manner in Imo State for the first time.
“I brought new innovations. I reformed to civil service. No wonder that the civil service, entire Nigeria Labour Congress of Imo State chapter endorsed me and I’m the only candidate they are supporting in the election. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners endorsed me.
“From 2007 to 2020, no civil servant in Imo State received gratuity. It is only my government that has now floated bonds to pay outstanding gratuities to civil servants. So, I understand the sensitivity of this event.
“But I wanted you people to be very careful because there is 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, that was why the NLC Imo State chapter addressed a World Press Conference that what their National Leadership is doing is not correct, and that they are not going to do any strike or protest. And in the process, they decided to dissolve them to put in a caretaker.
“Of course, I’m the chief security officer and I have a responsibility to intervene. I encourage the national leadership not to dissolve a management team that their tenure has not expired, and that was what they did. I don’t interfere with labour matters, but I have convinced my workers in Imo State to believe in me, and that trust is what opposition parties are trying to fight. But I can assure you that Imo people already have taken that decision, 1th November is by the corner, come and observe the election.”