A mild drama ensued on Monday as some Akwa Ibom workers who gathered at Workers Solidarity Centre, Atan Offot, Uyo local government area for adoption of Governor Udom Emmanuel for a second term in office appeared not to be on the same page with the labour leaders.
In 2015, the workers preferred Emmanuel who contested under Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to Umana Okon Umana, the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate. In unanimity, they supported his election.
From the grapevine, most workers rejected Umana on the basis that he was alleged to be responsible for the disparity in the payment of N18,000 minimum wage to different cadres of workers, thus making the state government to short change them.
However, in 2019 the workers under Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and United Labour Congress, ULC, uttered dissenting voices with some wanting the governor to continue while a few sought for a change of guard.
Mr. Nsima Ekere, the APC governorship candidate in the state is equally angling for the plum job.
Comrade Akamba Awah, the state chairman of Trade Union Congress, TUC, called for a motion to adopt the governor for another term in the office.
Comrade Iboro Ibara, the state Vice Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, moved a motion for adoption while Comrade Obot Inyang Asuquo, the state Publicity Secretary of TUC, seconded the motion.
Awah put the motion into voice vote, asking “Those who wanted the governor to go for a second say ‘Yes.’ Those who do not want the governor for a second term say ‘No.”
The “Yes” and “No” voice acclamation echoed by members of different industrial unions in the state drowned the crowded hall.
However, Awah summed up that the “Ayes” have it and most workers yelled hilariously.
He told the governor to look into the plights of the workers as they were ready prepared to support him on March 2 governorship election.
Thereafter, Comrade Etim Ukpong, the state NLC chairperson and Awah jointly lifted the hands of the governor.
Before this, Ukpong, the NLC chairperson had apologised to the governor in that some workers led by Mrs. Ekerebong Akpan, the Head of Civil Service were at the Civil Service Auditorium, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat to pray for peaceful conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
Ukpong lauded the governor for the regular payment of monthly salary to workers and monthly pensions to retirees.
He appealed to the governor to look into non-payment of promotion arrears to workers, saying “As a magnanimous father, we hope you will listen to us.”
He further appealed to the governor to look into the non-payment of gratuity to workers in the state as well as non-refund of 7.5 contributory pension scheme to retired and serving primary school teachers.
Governor Emmanuel accompanied by Moses Ekpo, the deputy governor, Idongesit Nkanga, director-general of Divine Mandate Organisation and Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, secretary to the state government, among others, pledged to meet again with the executive members of the unions to iron out some of their demands.
Emmanuel looked aloof in not attending to the demands of workers told them he was in the secretariat few weeks ago to consult them, soliciting their votes in the upcoming elections.
In interview with Straightnews, some workers were angry with the labour union over the adoption of the governor for a second term.
One of them who is a civil servant said “Why didn’t the governor address the forfeiture of promotion arrears by the government? Why didn’t the labour unions get a commitment on this before they would have asked him to come for adoption?”
A civil servant who retired in May 2016 thanked the governor for payment of pension to him, complaining that the governor stopped payment of gratuity in December 2015 while pension arrears are hanging.
He expressed surprise at the adoption of the governor when some issues affecting pensioners are unattended to by the state government.
A retired primary school teacher and local government pensioner wore morose look. “How can the labour unions be insensitive to the plights of the pensioners? Since 2012 till date, the state government has not paid us our gratuity.
“Of course, you heard when the governor said there were some issues to be addressed before our gratuity is paid. Then for how long? Is it when we are all dead then will our gratuity will be paid to our next-of-kin?” they lamented.