Akwa Ibom NLC Should be humanly on their demands
Criticism never ends. It is the lifeblood of every visionary project or adventure. Without criticism, one would probably not know how well or bad they are doing. Worse is the criticism without bearing where one could be misled and frustrated by sheer bitterness appearing in the guise of advice.
Because criticisms are seemingly unending, responses to them would always abound. This time, to the State chapter of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC).
A careful study of the release documenting the grievances of the body will no doubt move one to tears, considering the sacrifice of those concerned to the effectiveness of the state workforce.
However, at whose and what expense should those numerous demands be met? Payment of leave grants of 2015, 2017, 2018-2020 to civil servants, local government workers and Primary School Teachers alone would sure cost the state government a fortune, not to mention the backlogs of gratuity from 1989, promotion arrears, minimum wage arrears and contributory pension.
Ideally, no sensitive government would pay deaf ears to logical complaints made by its citizens, moreso, members of its workforce who are the brain behind its functionality but if the NLC would be fair to the state government, their demands, armed with an ultimatum can be likened to forcing a child on another man to father.
It is no news that the present government inherited truckloads of the debts mentioned and more in other sectors, coupled with the reduced allocation and biting economic condition experienced nationally. This has necessitated the halting of several projects and seeming abandoning of some important needs, not excluding those of the NLC.
Even if there were enough resources at the Governor’s disposal to meet the listed needs of the Congress, there are other sectors also crying to be attended to. The State Governor had in one of his broadcast lamented this setback when he spoke on the challenges facing the education sector in rural areas. A lot of schools are in need of repairs running into millions yet, focusing on the complete repair of one school would amount to ignoring others. The same applies to the NLC.
It would therefore be humane and considerate of the NLC to press on their demands with empathy for the government and consideration for sister bodies who are looking forward to having their needs fulfilled by the same government.
Meanwhile, in keeping with his avowed resolve to interface with local government administrators on pending issues of pension and gratuity arrears of retired primary school teachers as a mark of his concern for the needs of workers, Governor Udom Emmanuel had successfully secured a fixed allocation from the local government authorities for payment of outstanding entitlements.
To see to this, the Governor had to engage local government officials to secure 3% monthly allocation from the joint State/Local Government Accounts Allocation Committee to offset the outstanding pension and gratuity arrears of retired primary school teachers in the state.
He had also in the last quarter of 2019 sunk in heavy amount of money, worth millions of naira in the payment of 4,461 serving and retired workers’ entitlements, including pensions, short-paid salaries and promotion arrears, including the payment of salary arrears of the workers employed by the state government in 2015.
Given the will and understanding, the State Governor is ready to do more to ensure the satisfaction of his workers. So, rather than agitate with a strict ultimatum, the NLC should approach the State Chief Executive with peaceful dialogue and negotiation, not the other way round.