As the organised labour begins its nationwide protest today, Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the two main unions, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), have heaped praises on Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR.
According to a statement from Kazie Uko, the chief press secretary to the governor, the two main organised labour groups on Tuesday praised Dr. Otti for living up to his promise to pay salaries of civil servants and other public workers in the state on or before the 28th of every month.
Governor Otti had made a firm promise during his inaugural speech after being sworn in as the fifth democratically elected Governor of Abia that he would ensure that public workers receive their salaries latest by the 28th of every month.
He has subsequently kept the promise, paying June salaries on the 28, and just-ended July, on the 27th.
The labour groups which met with the Governor, some members of the Executive Council and senior government functionaries, including the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Kenneth Kalu; Commissioner for Transport, Comrade Sunny Onwuma; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo and Rev Father Christian Anokwuru, Special Adviser on Policies and Interventions, thanked Governor Otti for appointing one of their own, Comrade Onwuma, as commissioner.
Led by Comrade Paschal Nweke, Chairman of Abia NLC and Comrade Ihechi Enogwe, TUC Chairman in the state, the labour groups said the news out of Abia State is a cheery one for their members.
“It’s a sign that things are changing in the state,” they declared.
The organised labour in Abia said it had obtained approval from both the police and the DSS to join their colleagues from across the federation to protest the high price of petrol, following federal government’s removal of subsidy on petrol.
They clarified that the protest was not against the Government of Abia State, but against the Federal Government, to press home their disagreement with the FG’s policy.
Governor Otti thanked the visitors for coming to brief him about their plan and appealed to them to ensure that they conduct themselves orderly during the protest and not allow strangers to hijack the rally.
He explained how the twin issues of petroleum subsidy and foreign exchange demand had conspired to put the nation’s economy on dire straits, adding that it was only a rich few that were benefitting from subsidy payments and not the poor.
The Governor, however, acknowledged the negative impact that the sudden removal of subsidy on petrol may have had on the populace.
“The challenge for us is to ensure that the impact is reduced and we’re putting our heads together to see how we, as a State, will reduce the impact on our people.
“I’m happy that you have promised that there is not going to be any violence because people can also hijack it and once people hijack it, it goes out of your control,” Dr. Otti said.
The Governor declared that there is nothing wrong with protest for as long as it is conducted within the ambit of the law.
According to him, “It’s a democracy so your voices should be heard. But what I think is also important is that when you see genuine effort at resolving what you’re protesting against, then you should embrace it because all of us are asking for the same thing. We want a better place for everybody.”