The ongoing workers in Ekiti State has taken a new twist as concerned trade unions there, comprising artisans and commercial drivers, on Tuesday a protest, in Ado-Ekiti, accusing the leadership of labour of taking N25million bribe to destabilise the Fayose administration.
The protesters, who held placards of various inscriptions, massed at the popular Fajuyi Park and marched to Ijigbo to shore up supports for Fayose’s government, to justify Governor Ayo Fayose’s inability to pay the workers’ salary.
The protesters led by the Chairmen of Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria, Comrade Samuel Agbede and National Union of Road Transport Workers, Comrade Clement Adekola, described the ongoing strike declared by labour unions to press home for the payment of of outstanding benefits as politically motivated.
Debunking allegation, the TUC Chairman, Comrade Odunayo Adesoye, who dispelled the bribery allegation, appealed to the drivers to stop displaying illiteracy or allow themselves to be used as thugs. “What we are agitating for is our rights and we can’t wait for any political party to tell us when to take action. The pensioners are dying every day. Workers have become paupers and beggars. What we want is our money and nothing more.”
Agbede said that he expected the labour leaders to take a cue from Ondo, Oyo, Benue and Osun states, who were owing more than five months’ salaries, with the workers not going on strike.
“The workers cannot afford to paralyse the state because Governor Fayose has demonstrated transparency in the distribution of federal allocations accruing to Ekiti. The labour leaders were part of the negotiation that agreed that two month allocations should be lumped up to pay one month salary.
“But as we speak now, two months allocations can’t even pay one month salary. The governor used March and April allocations to pay for December and where do they expect him to get money to pay full salary of about N2.6 billion monthly now?
“We expect them to show understanding. But we are beginning to see that this strike has political undertone”, he alleged.
Agbede berated the labour unions for asking Fayose to spend the internally generated revenue and federal allocations, to pay workers’ salary, urging them to desist from arrogating the state to workers alone.
He, however, said the concerned unions would appeal to Fayose to use the allocations left over to pay whatever percentage it could offer to workers to alleviate their sufferings.
Similarly, Adekola added that they shouldn’t expect Fayose to go and borrow money to pay salaries or in the alternative stop all the ongoing projects, clarifying that “Ekiti State belongs to both public and private sectors. So, they shouldn’t see Ekiti as belonging to them alone.
“We even learnt from reliable sources that the labour leaders got a sum of N25m to destabilise Ekiti. We want them to return to the negotiation table in the interest of our future”, he said.
Students, under the auspices of Federation of Ekiti State Students’ Union, in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Peter Obayemi, pleaded for understanding, saying that Fayose had been paying regularly before the country’s economy slid into recession.
“It was too bad that labour leaders kept silent when, in spite of oil windfall of over N46 billion received by immediate past government, the government went on borrowing spree, taking over N30 billion commercial loan and N25 billion bond.”