BEFORE IMO STATE BECOMES A GHOST STATE
The present situation in Imo state especially as it concerns reasonable and effective social dialogue has become so toxic that it is almost impossible to engage the government in any decent conversation. Hobbesian state of nature has become prevalent exposing not just workers in the state but institutions and individuals to the most horrendous of scare, fear and violence in their daily activities.
A state that once prided itself as the Eastern Heartland which provided weekend rendezvous to those looking for relaxation and comfort by the deliberate actions of this government has become heavily terrorised. Citizens’ engagements with the government are almost non-existent while participation in social life is petering to nothing. Moving around the state requires extra caution as a heavy pall of gloom seems to have enveloped the state.
It is within this context that NLC in continuation of the State wide Industrial action in the State which has already commenced this morning and which was prompted by the brigandage of the state government in conjunction with Security agencies against workers in the state yesterday who assembled peacefully to conduct the State Delegates Conference of the Congress.
As we had pledged, we cannot fold our hands and watch the state turn into a camp of horror and a ghost state because of the irresponsible actions of some operatives bequeathed with the powers of state. The use of of instruments of state as weapons to terrorise workers and the people cannot be accepted in sane engagements and it is only by the action of responsible organisation like ours and other patriotic individuals that such perfidy could be stopped.
The government of Imo state has become a serial abuser and violator of the rights and privileges of its workers. It has deliberately turned the State into the most uncomfortable clime for workers in Nigeria. As it stands today, the state has almost made it seem a criminal offence to be a worker. We have taken notice of the previous actions of the government and had warned severally of the implications of their unreasonable actions and had demanded that a new leaf be turned but sadly, these warnings were left unheeded.
For the avoidance of doubt, we restate below some of the atrocities of the state government against its own workers. They are:
20 months Salary arrears owed to some workers stigmatised as ghost workers
Declaration of about 11,000 workers in the state as ghost workers even while they were physically at work and diversion of their salaries.
Intimidation and Harassment of Trade Union leaders; a witch hunt carried out in different guises.
Continued use of thugs and instrument of violence against workers in the state as was furthered in the terror of yesterday.
Impoundment and illegal diversion of Union dues in the state
Declaration of about 10,000 pensioners as ghost Pensioners and refusing to pay them for over 22 Months leading to the death of many.
Harassment and intimidation of the entire workforce with constant threats of violence and sack
The Resort to blackmail and falsehood through the Information Commissioner of the state whose infamous role as an attack dog of the administration has not only scuttled reasonable and effective social dialogue but has also brought the state to ridicule.
Consequently in pursuit of our legitimate strike action to restore sanity to the state’s industrial relations sphere, we wish to advise that:
those travelling to Imo State through the Airport to look for other alternatives
those that make use of Petroleum products should make efforts to seek alternatives and,
those that use Electricity to seek other options outside the National Grid.
We are resolved to press home our demands and until these infractions are remedied, we will continue escalating the industrial action till the government is compelled to show reason and restore meaningful and effective dialogue in the state.
NLC calls on the federal government to use whatsoever may be at its disposal to protect the lives of the citizens and workers in Imo state. The actions and inactions of the state government are capable of turning the state into a ghost state and this must be avoided. The actions of the federal government would go a long way in ensuring that sanity is restored and the people free to participate in social activities without fear and intimidation.
Enough is Enough
Comrade Joe Ajaero