The Kogi State Government has urged labour unions in the state to stop their “unrelenting blackmail and promotion of falsehood against government,” saying it has remained “consistently committed to workers’ welfare.”
Reacting to a bulletin by the striking labour unions in the state, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo accused labour of carrying out the “hatchet job of failed political warlords from the state.”
“The tyranny of labour’s blackmail and campaign of calumny against government has clearly shown there are some underbelly factors surrounding the industrial disagreement between it and government in the state.
“The demands of labour do not warrant the current desperate posture to paint Government as inhumane and irresponsible.
“We have been paying salaries to verified and cleared workers, except a few on the clemency list, which is under harmonization.
“This government has shown transparency and accountability by publishing our accounts and what has been paid to individual worker in the state. No worker has come out to disclaim our facts.
“Facts at the disposal of government show that some desperate politicians are playing politics with the destiny of the people of Kogi State, who need the services for which these striking workers are paid.
“When we chose to confront the failed system of the past, we had no doubt of the attendant contention with the entrenched forces of retrogression who benefited from the blind corruption of the past.
“We have started a process of recovering our looted commonwealth from past leaders. A white paper implementation committee was constituted to recover the loot.
“But Labour was used to strikes. We shall remain focused in ensuring that we recover every kobo stolen from the coffers of this great state.”
Fanwo stated that some of the demands of Labour could have been met if past administrations were committed to the welfare of the workers.
He said, “The immediate past administration collected allocations running into billions of naira between September and December 2015. But for those four months, they did not pay a dime to the workers.
“Labour leaders kept quiet until few weeks to the inauguration of the present administration before they went on strike, ostensibly to disrupt the inauguration of the present administration.
“We promised a reformed, robust, disciplined, digital and accountable civil service that will oil our New Direction Agenda. This administration is poised to pursue it to a logical conclusion to the benefit of the populace.
“We are not ignorant of the fact that some disgruntled elements are uncomfortable with the digitalization of the civil service operations which will curb truancy and corruption.
“As a responsible government, we have never denied owing workers a few months salary. We have paid half of July and we are in the process of paying the balance as well as the August salary.
“The need for Labour to embrace dialogue stems from the paucity of resources across the nation. It is not peculiar to our state. We are ready to dialogue with labour when they return to work and we hope they will do that in the interest of the good people of Kogi State.
“We will be decisive if they remain adamant and continue to go violent on workers who do not believe in their agitations.
“The window of opportunity is there now for workers to return to work and ensure they use the clock-in clock-out device.
“It will amount to an economic crime and social injustice for government to take tax from the sick and use it to pay a nurse that has refused to treat him. Labour is our partner in the rebuilding process of our dear state.”