From Christiana Ekpa, Lokoja
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to probe the Kogi State governors over bailout funds granted to states of the federation.
He equally said 2 million Nigerian workers would be mobilized in the state in four weeks if the governor failed to resolve the industrial crisis in the state.
This is just as the labour leaders in the state said they had abandoned their houses following threats and intimidation from unknown person’s since the strike action in the state commenced.
Wabba who said this in Lokoja, the state capital while addressing workers of the state who have been on strike for almost four weeks, said the situation in Kogi State was different and pathetic, noting that urgent steps are needed 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 are not resolved by government, we will mobilise 2 million Nigerian workers and occupy the entire state, the organise labour can also declare a national action on Kogi problem.
“It is an ungodly act for one to work for seven months and not paid, it will amount to 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 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 letters would be written to Buhari in 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 percent 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.