By METROWATCH Reporter
Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, has accused Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President Joe Ajaero of politicising Labour activities in the state.
The Governor while fielding questions from State House Correspondents, after joining the candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in Kogi, Usman Ododo and Bayelsa, Timipre Sylva to receive his gubernatorial flag from President Bola Tinubu, ahead of the November 11 gubernatorial elections, accused the Labour leader of not differentiating between Labour issues and his interest in local politics of the state.
Uzodinma debunked allegation that he was owing salaries for 40 months, insisting that his administration is up-to-date on salary payments in the State.
He said he has been paying salaries regularly, since he assumed office, January, 15, 2020.
He challenged Imo civil servants being owed salary arrears in the state, to come out openly and say so.
On the allegations that he was owing 40 salary arrears, the Imp Governor said: “I think it is a very good opportunity for me to clear the air on the so called allegations.
“When I came into Imo State as the governor on January 15th 2020, from 2020 January till date, there’s no month we have not paid salary before 30th. The situation is that before this time, I thought that the trade union is a democratic entity that allows the opinion of people.
“I don’t pay federal civil servants, I only pay Imo State civil servants and I challenged any Imo State civil servants to come out and say that between 2020 January 15th till date, that he has not received salary in any of the month.
“What has happened in this ugly incident that the national president of Nigeria Labour Congress is from Imo State and has not been able to demarcate the difference between being a national leader of an organisation and an interested party in local politics. But God will manage the situation.”
Reminded that the workers were accusing him of reneging on January 2021 agreement aside the backlog of salaries and this might impact his re-election, Uzodimma said: “Well, I still repeat, there’s no worker in Imo State…recall I came in January 2020 and by March, I started paying minimum wage of N30,000 that had been lying there, that previous leadership couldn’t pay. By December 2020 I paid 13th month, the first time on the history of Imp State civil service and I have maintained continuously this 13th month payment as an incentive.
“I automated the payment system. Salaries are now received in an automated manner in Imo State. I brought new innovations, I reformed the civil service. No wonder in the civil service the entire Labour Congress of Imo State chapter endorsed me and I am the only candidate they are supporting in the election. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners endorsed me, from 2007 to 2020, no civil servants in Imo State received gratuity. It is only my government that has now floated bond to pay outstanding gratuities to civil servants.
“So, I understand the sensitivity of this event but I want you people to be very careful because there’s an attempt to mix up partisan politics or an attempt to blackmail my government. But I can tell you that my people are already aware and that was why the Nigerian Labour Congress Imo State chapter, addressed a World Press Conference, that what their national leadership is saying is not correct. And that they are not coming to do any strike or protests. And in the process they decided to resolve them to put in a care taker.
“Of course, I am the chief security officer and I have the responsibility to intervene. I encouraged the national leadership not to devolve the management team that their tenure have not expired and that was what they did.
“I don’t interfere in Labour matters but I have convinced my workers in Imo State to believe in me and is that trust that the opposition parties are trying to fight. But I can assure you that Imo people already have taken their decision. 11th November is by the corner…”
Uzodimma added that having campaign vigorously, APC is the party to beat in the three states of Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa.
“We are here and we have received are flags, I am trying to run back to Imo States to continue with campaigns and so are the candidates for Bayelsa and Kogi states.”
Sylva responding to a question quoting the Governor of Bayelsa as saying he was wasting his time and won’t win, said: “Yes, I am running against an incumbent governor but you will agree with me that this incumbent governor is one that came in through the back door. He didn’t win an election to get there.
“The problem in Bayelsa is like that of a dog that has tasted blood. They’ve come once behind through the back door so it has now become something they want to do all the time, they want to come through the back door. What does that signify? It signifies fear, they are actually afraid of the elections because as a government they have performed poorly and the only way they think they can stay in office is to come through the legal door, through which they came the last time. But I can assure you that time they will not succeed.
“They tried it this past week and you saw it, it was a case of meddlesome interloper, who had gone to court. Somebody we had to part in the contest, whose membership of APC was even questioned, taking me to court. And of course you can see that was just part of the plan they had.
“But that has not deterred us at all, we did not stop campaigning, we decided to continue with our village to village campaign, house to house campaign. Abs today, even the PDP is aware that in a fair contest that they can never win that election. So if they brag on TV that they are going to win, they know they can never win this election.
“If you go back to 2015, the APC won that election. They had to cancel the result of Southern Ijaw and ordered a re-run and of course we all know what happened for the PDP to win. In 2019, the APC won clearly nobody could even challenged that victory, they went to court and challenged the credentials of a serving senator who was now our deputy-governor elect and they annulled the results based on that.
“That serving senator served out his term and nobody challenged it. So his credentials were good enough to serve as senator but not good enough to serve as a deputy governor. So this time they have come with the same strategy going through the courts. But I can assure you that this time around we are going to win and this time we are going to keep this victory.”
Ododo responding to a question that his chances of victory on November 11 was now slim following the victory of senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan at the court, he said it does not have any effect on the gubernatorial election.
Reacting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Candidate for the Kogi governorship election, Dino Melaye that his party will replicate the victory of Akpoti-Uduagan in the November 11 election, Ododo said he was saying that out of fear.
He said: “Well, going by your question, the victory of Natasha does not in any way have effect on Kogi gubernatorial election come November 11, 2023. I think what he was saying is just the fear of defeat.
“I want to let you know I was born and brought up in Kogi State. I schooled in Kogi State, I have been in the service of Kogi State for over 7 years as auditor-general for local government, that brought me into close and direct contacts with the people at the grassroots and financial level for development.
“As I am talking to you, APC in Kogi State doesn’t have any opposition. They are no match: What we are waiting for is the day for us to announce our victory, they know that.”