The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State have taken their battle over the coming governorship election in November 26 to the state workers.
Both parties have traded accusations over recent national conference of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) held in the state capital, Akure.
This was consequent upon a grand ‘thank you’ rally organised by the state chapter of NULGE in honour of Governor Olusegun Mimiko to appreciate him for what the workers described as his government’s unprecedented support for the welfare of local government workers in the state.
The National President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khalid, led the rally alongside other national and state officers, who began the procession from the state secretariat of NULGE along Ilesha Motor Park, enroute Oba Adesida Road to the Governor’s office.
But the Chairman, Research and Communications of Aketi Campaign Organisation, Mr. Kunle Adebayo, condemned the rally saying: “it is a desperate effort by the PDP to shore up support for its anointed candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.”
Adebayo accused Mimiko of hijacking the national conference of the Nigerian Union of Local government Employees (NULGE) for its political gains.
He pointed out that: “what ought to be a solemn union congregation became a jamboree and praise singing session orchestrated by the government for personal and selfish gain.”
He said the saddest part of the whole episode was the fact that the council workers were forced to the event and compelled against their work ethics and professional oaths “to embark on the ignoble role of praise singing Mimiko and his activities.”
According to him, “This enduring policy of intimidation and coercion of innocent workers is a debasement of the values and oath of public service.”
He recalled that the governor employed same strategy during the 2012 election, when he did not only force the same local government workers as part of his campaign train but also surreptitiously employed over 13,000 people into the workforce.
He said no sooner was the campaign over than the same workers were retrenched and disgraced out of service. They were called ghost workers. Not minding that presently, Ondo state local government retirees are owed not less than N20 billion for pension and gratuities as well as workers six months salaries.
Adebayo enjoined the people of the state to resist attempts to play on their sensibilities “we condemn in strong terms the draconian decision of Mimiko to compel local government workers to wear vests and carry complimentary placards expressing support for his administration and policies and by extension his window dress candidate.
“Again we wish to drum it into the ears of the public, particularly the public servants that as the days of elections draw near such is the manner of antics to be expected from unpopular governments.”
But a Special Assistant to the governor, Mr. Sunday Menukuro, in a statement, said Akeredolu has only raised the issue to get a cheap popularity.
He said Jegede was nowhere near the rally, which the APC eventually categorised as if the NULGE members have no minds of their own and could easily be manipulated or induced.