Strike looms in Oyo state as Ajimobi dares labor

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Ajimobi on war path with civil servants as strike looms in Oyo state

Yesterday, I wrote on the insensitivity of Governor Ajimobi-led Oyo state government in its handling of the case of unpaid salaries it owe the civil servants in the state. And I just found out, thanks to a report by Vanguard newspaper, that the meeting the governor hurriedly organised with the traditional rulers and local government caretakers in Oyo state was aimed at getting the royal fathers to enjoin the civil servants to desist from going on strike. No wonder the governor’s proposal was watery and lacked any realistic specifics as I revealed in my post on the government’s marasmic plan.

Anyway, news platforms this morning reported that the governor is daring civil servants in the state regarding their plan to embark on strike. The governor reportedly said he is not disturbed by the strike threat issued by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). He however vowed that any workers that goes on strike will not be paid his or her salary.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that thinks the governor’s choice of words rarely depict him as a truly democratic person or how would you justify his decision to oppose the workers’ protest against owed 5-month salaries?

The governor said he will not review the 90 per cent income that is dedicated for the payment of workers salary from Federation Account. He added that the call by the NLC asking the government to add the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) with the 90 per cent income from the federal allocation to pay the workers’ salary will not be possible at the moment.

Ajimobi addressing LG caretakers and royal fathers. Photo courtesy OYSG Communication Team

Ajimobi addressing LG caretakers and royal fathers. Photo courtesy OYSG Communication Team

This case is a sad yet fascinating conundrum for me. On a personal note, I will not support using all the funds to pay salaries; and on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense for anybody to be issuing orders to people you are owing several months. It is just like a chronic debtor ‘raking’ for the person that is owed. It doesn’t just make sense.

The state government shouldn’t be bragging about town and threatening workers with no work no pay since it’s been unable to consistently pay workers’ salaries. The last time the government paid salaries was when it was able to get bailout fund totaling N26.6 billion from the federal government.

Vanguard reported that Oyo State Government said it spent the N26.6 billion it got as bailout to pay only four months’ salaries. Gov. The governor had before the receipt of the fund, initiated a meeting with labour unions where it was agreed that the fund be used to clear four months outstanding salaries of workers. The NLC Chairman in Oyo State also confirmed that the labour met with the state government where it was resolved that the N26.6 billion should be used to clear salary arrears from May to August.

So since the governor got the bailout, he has only been able to pay the salary for one month (September) since many workers are yet to receive their salaries for October. So, the governor shouldn’t expect those people to fold their hands and watch their families die of hunger. In the same vein, he ought to be using words that will present him as someone that has human feelings – even if he doesn’t. The statements below do not present him as someone that gives a f*ck about the labour.

The governor said: “It was agreed that about 90 per cent of income accruing from the State’s monthly allocation from the Federation Account should be dedicated to the workers while the remaining ten percent would be deployed to the running of other aspects of governance.”

“Modern day labour union and government relationship has listed steps that must be taking. Step one is that if you have any concern about anything, there is a joint negotiation committee that is made up of government and workers, you first go there to discuss with them and if after the discussion it does not work then you can go to the next level where the head of service and government will now appoint some people to discuss. It is when negotiations have broken down that labour can give notice of strike actions and not this old time labour government relationship where without discussing you will issue ultimatum to go on strike.

“It is illegal because this is a government where law must be followed and obeyed, not this culture of impunity. It is wrong to give an ultimatum to go on strike without reaching a consensus with the government. We have an agreement, there was a time we use to get close to N5 billion from federal government and our IGR was like N1 billion, now everybody is aware of the Nigeria situation, and now we are having N2 billion plus from federal government.”

My best guess

I believe that the strike is inevitable and labor will definitely go on strike. As the governor continues to blow grammar, he should know that his government has an expiry date and a new government will come on board with promise to treat the workers much better. I believe the national secretariat of the APC may even compel Ajimobi to act right. So, it’s all a matter of patience as the workers will be the eventual winners in this unnecessary battle he wants to start.

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