•To invade Kogi with 2 million workers
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, on Wednesday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to probe state governors over bailout funds granted to states of the federation.
Apart from this, he also said no fewer than two million Nigerian workers would be mobilised to Kogi State in four weeks if the state government failed to resolve the industrial crisis in the state.
This was just as the Labour leaders in the state said they had abandoned their houses, following threats and intimidation from unknown persons since the commencement of strike in the state.
Wabba said this in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, while addressing workers of the state who had been on strike for almost four weeks.
He said the situation in Kogi State was different and pathetic, noting that urgent steps should be taken to salvage the situation.
According to him, there was the need for the Federal Government to probe the application of bailout funds to states since it was obvious that some of the states did not adhere to the regulations guiding the disbursement.
The NLC boss added that it was wrong for the Kogi State government to have disbursed the N20 billion bailout fund part-payment without the committee expected to draw its membership from the workers, security agencies, the executive and other bodies.
He said the president should gather the will and courage to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the bailout funds by some governors in the country.
He said: “Some situations are very terrible, but that of Kogi State is pathetic, since bailout is a loan that states will have to pay back, so there is the need for the Federal Government to set up a high-powered committee to probe the application of the fund.
“If the situation in Kogi continues and not resolved by government, we will mobilise two million Nigerian workers and occupy the entire state, the organised labour can also declare a national action on Kogi’s problem.
“It is an ungodly act for one to work for seven months and not paid, it will amount to an act of cruelty for workers to work and not get paid. Workers are fighting a just cause and we will not relent.
“It is worrisome that Kogi’s bailout is not transparently utilised, we don’t know why it is different in Kogi, it is unacceptable.”
Wabba also condemned the decision of the state government to force the workers on its payroll to open salary accounts in only two banks, saying this was against the fundamental human rights of the workers.
According to him, the move was a very cruel one and corruption on the part of government, alleging that it was an attempt by government to service certain interest.
He, however, said a personal letter would be written to Buhari on the situation in Kogi State, describing it as one different from those of other states of the country.
Wabba said, “By the time we are coming to Kogi, no force on earth can stop us, with our number, we will overcome the situation. No worker should be treated as a slave. Nobody should hide under any pretence to perpetrate evil against workers.”
The state chairman of NLC, Onuh Edoka, said government had been using propaganda to paint the leaders of the workers black, saying about 70 per cent of the workers were yet to be paid.
He also claimed that the screening exercise embarked upon by government was bungled because government discovered that the cleared workers were more than what it wanted.
He said the workers did not know the situation with the bailout of the state as the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, did not set up the committee to implement the disbursement.