By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi, has threatened that Oyo State Government may apply the “no work no pay rule” after Tuesday if labour leaders in the state failed to call off the ongoing strike to give room for dialogue.
The governor stated this in Ibadan while speaking with journalists shortly after featuring on a Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) television live programme “Eyi Ara”, in on Sunday.
He emphasized that the ongoing industrial action in the state was “ill-advised since labour had no dispute” with the government prior to the strike nor gave the government any ultimatum in compliance with the labour laws.
Governor Ajimobi who noted that there was the need for the labour leaders to call off the strike to enable “the committed and hardworking” among the workers to resume work in their own interest and the larger interest of the state however added that the labour leaders must be prepared to apologise for disrupting a stakeholders’ forum where they were also invited to discuss a proposed public-private participatory management of public secondary schools in the state.
“I am appealing to them to imbibe the culture of dialogue. We want them to come because we are not quarreling with labour; we have no dispute that might warrant labour leaders to direct workers to embark on strike. We don’t have problem with them, except for some that are being politically motivated,” he sad.
The governor observed further that “it is just a few who are using politics and are being influenced by failed politicians who wants to get through the backdoor what they failed woefully to get from the ballot box”.
“We are appealing to them to come and dialogue with us. It is the major ingredient of democracy. Consultation, participation, rule of law and peace that is all we want. But anybody who breaks the law will be prosecuted. We may be forced to apply the no work no pay from Tuesday if they ignore my appeal.”
Assuring that the situation about the delay in salary payment in the state would improve in the next few months when the result of the ongoing efforts to ameliorate the situation began to manifest, the governor lauded the workers for their tolerance and sacrifice.
He also urged pensioners in the state to bear with his government, saying at least, he was once given an award as the best pensioner-friendly governor when there was sufficient fund to pay their dues.
“For the sake of emphasis, the situation with pensioners was brought about by the stealing of over N6bn meant for them. We are prosecuting the culprits now. But we won’t say because of that we are not going to pay them. I’m optimistic that things will get better in the next few months.”
“I am not happy with the situation we found ourselves, even though other states in the country, except Lagos and probably one other, are going through similar challenges of delay in payment of salaries and pensions. It is disheartening. I feel for them because I can’t imagine somebody working and not being paid. I also empathize with our senior citizens over the pension arrears. We will overcome these challenges because we are working hard to shore up our revenue base”.
Speaking further, the governor said the state government has being blocking “the loopholes and leakages at our revenue collection centres, because there is a lot of stealing going on. We are also increasing our tax net,” saying, “and this is an opportunity for me to remind property owners to get prepared for the payment of tenement rate”.
He however insisted that his administration had no plan to sell or privatize any of the 631 public secondary schools in the state, stating that the allegation was a figment of the imagination of some opponents of the government.
“We are not selling our schools. It is a misconception. We only want to partner with the people on the management of some of our schools, because this has become inevitable judging by the poor state of our economy and the deteriorating condition of our schools. We are just discussing this proposal. It is not yet a policy because we have not concluded the ongoing consultations. That is why labour and everyone who wants to partner with us should come and contribute to the discourse”.
According to him, going by the responses so far, “the state might not have more than 30 schools or thereabout where partnership might exist with interested stakeholders in the management of the schools and that the state government would spend the about N600m generated from the education level introduced last year for the renovation of the remaining schools when the students embark on the next long vacation.