By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi said he has forgiven the embattled seven Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leaders in Oyo state after apologising to him over the June 1 storming of the aborted stakeholders’ Forum on the planned Public Private Partnership and return of some public schools by the state government.
The governor stated this while speaking during a solidarity rally for him by over 186 associations as well as his supporters from across the 33 local government areas of Oyo state that stormed his office, at the state Secretariat, Agodi .
Emphasizing that his government was not fighting the workers, the governor pointed accusing fingers at the opposition for allegedly “sponsoring lies against him” on the PPP initiative as well as reportedly setting children on the streets to start destroying public property.
“We are not fighting with workers. But we must realize that we are all stakeholders in this state. Let us dialogue. Nobody can intimidate us! But let everyone know that we won’t allow hooliganism in Oyo State. We shall also revamp Oyo State while thinking together. We won’t let labour alone control the entire state. Go and tell labour to come back for dialogue,” he said.
Governor Ajimobi added, “After all these, we held a meeting with enlarged labour leaders. They saw that what their local leaders did was not good. And they apologized. So, we have forgiven them.
The initiative is yet to transform to a policy. We just asked everyone to come and dialogue. Most of our workers are good. Workers, we are not fighting with you”.
The governor pointed out that there will be no going back in his commitment to his campaign promises, especially towards sustaining his administration’s achievement on peace saying, he would continue to encourage every democratic means of governing the state.
“When we campaigned, we made promises. We stand by those promises. Those sponsoring disharmony are the opposition elements. We promised to run an all-inclusive government. When we discovered that our schools were not doing well, we organized education summit in 2012 and certain recommendations were made. Democracy is about thinking together. Hence we invited all stakeholders to a meeting. But some labour leaders gathered and disrupted the meeting. The violence we had stamped out was what they brought back again and we won’t let that be.
“If anybody opposes any policy, you complain through proper channel.
“Yet, we are not fighting with workers because they never supported those leaders who employed violence. Why should anyone fight over planned policies?
“We have 631 secondary schools, 33,000 classrooms several thousands of students and teachers. Then, some people came and offered to collaborate with us”.
Narrating what transpired at the meeting with the NLC leaders, Governor Ajimobi said when the labour leaders “saw that the school management card did not work, they resorted to salary issue. But we already have an agreement on salaries. Not only Oyo State is having this salary problem. When our finances were still good, we increased salaries thrice and that of pensioners. We paid 13th month for three years. We provided free buses, increased car and housing allowance, gave training allowances etc.
“When the problem of salaries started, I gave them three options. I came up with an option of payment that would see workers on the junior cadres receive their salaries while the balance of government income is used to pay part of senior workers’. But they rejected the idea. I offered the option of retrenchment, they rejected. Then I suggested payment of half salaries, they also rejected it. As at that time, salaries alone gulped 80 per cent of our federal allocation. I asked them what they wanted and they said they wanted 100 per cent of the federal allocation coming to the state to be committed to salaries alone. I consented. Now the entire allocation is insufficient. They are complaining. Let them come up and let’s dialogue to fashion the way forward”.
The associations at the solidarity rally comprised of traders, market women, artisans, Fuji musicians, farmers, butchers, food and fruits sellers, students and politicians matching through Beere/Oje/Agodi Road.