..says, ‘union chairmen not produced in Govt House’
• Govt: Allegation untrue, baseless
The Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Imo State chapter, Austin Chilakpu, has accused the state government of being behind the attack and vandalism of the state’s NLC secretariat last Monday.
The chairman alleged that the state office of the union was attacked last Monday and Tuesday consecutively and thereafter, the attackers were received in the Imo Government House. But in a swift reaction, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media (Print), Modestus Nwamkpa, dismissed the assertion as untrue, insisting that the state government had no hand in the Labour crisis or the predicament of the embattled state chairman of NLC.
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent, Chilakpu said the only offence the union committed was demanding that the state government should pay about 15,000 civil servants, teachers and pension ers most of who have not been paid their salaries and pension since March 2020. He expressed regret that instead of paying salaries, the Imo state government has instead embarked on endless verifications while introducing frustrating bureaucratic conditions for payment of workers. According to him, from demanding and using BVN as an excuse, the Imo State government is now demanding NIN, which a vast majority of Nigerians do not have.
While narrating the invasion of their secretariat, Chilakpu said: “As early as 5am Monday morning, the government used a police detachment to barricade our office, preventing workers from coming in.
“The same security men did not stop the thugs hired by the government to ransack our office while threatening and searching for me.” He added: The reason for this is because the governor last December declared that it had paid every worker and pensioner in Imo State.
“Following his claim, we decided to undertake our own independent findings and discovered that a lot of workers and pensioners have not been paid. “We listed and tabulated them and got all of them to fill their names and particulars. “We now wrote to the government that from our investigation, there are almost 15,000 workers and pensioners that have not been paid from February 2020 till date.
“That’s the only crime we committed against the government. “I assure you, if we had kept quiet and looked the other way, this attack, intimidation and harassment would not have happened.” On the emergence of another NLC state chairman yesterday as announced and recognised by Government House, Chilakpu said: “NLC leaders are not produced in the Government House, neither does government have the power to packappoint people into the NLC executive, instead, the NLC delegate election takes place every four years and the last one took place in 2019. He said: “So you see, all these machinations are geared towards silencing the voice of the workers in Imo state. “Rather opting to shut down Labour in the state, Uzodimma should instead engage Labour in a meaningful dialogue with the view of determining when to pay workers and pensioners”.
“The NLC boss, Comrade Chilakpu, should sort himself out with his colleagues, close ranks and resolve the problems in the NLC. “It apparently seems that workers in the state may have lost confidence in the leadership of Comrade Austin Chilakpu.”
Meanwhile, members of the National Executive Committee of the NLC have arrived in the state and have since distanced itself from the new Caretaker Committee set up by the Imo State government.