“The 2013 May Day celebration will be used to mark the Nigeria’s 100 years existence as a united country, having being amalgamated in 1914 by the then governor-general of Nigeria, Fredrick Lord Lugard”.
These were the exact words of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman, Rivers State Council, Comr. (Chief) Chris Oruge in Port Harcourt while briefing the press on this year’s Workers Day celebration.
According to him, NLC and The Trade Union Congress (TUC), its sister union will celebrate the 2013 May Day in a special way. “Apart from the usual match past, there will be drama sketch and labour expects the governor to respond to the addresses to be presented by NLC and TUC chairmen at the end, Oruge said.
The NLC state boss told newsmen that the federal government has declared 1st May work free day to enable Nigerian workers relax and celebrate their day properly.
Commenting on the speculations that workers under Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi have not faired well as compared to previous administrations in the state.
The NLC chairman said investigations have shown that civil servants in Rivers State earn more than their counterparts in South-South and indeed Nigeria.
He regretted that some civil servants mostly in the Ministry of Health earn over bloated salaries far above their qualifications, expressing confidence that labour will collaborate with the state government to fish out these culprits and correct the anomaly.
According to the NLC chairman, over N1.8bn paid in excess of the normal civil servants salaries in the state has been recovered in the process.
On the contentious Christmas bonus issue, Chief Oruge said, the government has offered to train civil servants who want to further their education through overseas scholarship as option to Christmas bonus, but regretted that workers are reluctant to take the offer.
He promised that labour will continue to appeal to government to see reasons why it should reconsider the payment of Christmas bonus as popularly demanded.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has called on Nigerian workers to reflect on the state of the nation and their contribution to national development.
Governor Amaechi made the call yesterday during the 2013 May Day celebration in Port Harcourt.
Represented by his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, the Governor, said “I want to use this privilege to ask each of us to reflect even as we celebrate. Let us also use today to reflect on the state of our country,” noting that “from the day this country was founded we started having workers who have worked in one capacity or the other towards the upliftment of this country”.
He stated that “the engine room of government are the workers. The engine room of the factories are the workers. The engine room of development are the workers. Without workers there can be no development. Therefore we need to reflect on how much we have played our parts,” pointing out that “we cannot divorce the present state of Nigeria from how well we have played our part”.
Congratulating the workers on the centenary workers day anniversary, Governor Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), declared that “this is the time to reflect, to change our attitude, to renew ourselves. This is the opportunity for us to reflect and renew our service towards our fatherland. The government of Rivers State will continue to support labour having partnered with you for the last 6 years”.
Earlier, Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Chapter, Comrade Chris Oruge, attributed Nigeria’s endemic crisis of development to poor policy implementation, corruption, lack of accountability and the will-power to do what is right, calling on Nigerians to join hands with labour in the genuine search for a dynamic way to national rebirth.
Comrade Oruge used the opportunity to thank Governor Amaechi for suspending the decision of the State Executive Council to retire Directors of Ministries who had served eight years and above, adding that the committee set up by the Head of Service, which included labour, to probe the exorbitant wage bill of the State Civil Service has discovered an inflated amount of N1, 080,271,628.92, thereby saving the State from further loss, reiterating the resolve of the labour movement to intensify the campaign and pursuit of reasonable welfare for Nigerian workers.
Speaking, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress , (TUC), Rivers State Chapter, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, pledged the continued support of labour for the Governor Amaechi-led administration in the State, appealing to him to integrate organized labour represented by TUC and NLC into all processes of governance so that workers’ interests will be articulated and protected at all levels. ###