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Imo NLC Pulls Out Of Strike As Ajaero Arrives State, CAN Says “Occupy Imo” Politically Motivated


Imo NLC Pulls Out Of Strike As Ajaero Arrives State, CAN Says “Occupy Imo” Politically Motivated

The Imo State wing of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has dissociated its members from the plan of the NLC, led by its President,  Comrade Joe Ajaero, to occupy Imo State from November 1, 2023.

This is even as the NLC National President, Comrade Joe Ajaero and Comrade Ocheme Abba, Secretary General of the National Union of Air Transport Employees  arrived Imo State on Tuesday. Both men arrived aboard an Air Peace flight to Sam Mbakwe International Cargo ostensibly to give a strong backing to the planned strike scheduled to start on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.

But addressing newsmen in  Owerri, Monday night, after a meeting with other Labour leaders in the State, the State Acting Chairman of NLC, Rev Philip Nwansi  announced that organised labour in Imo will not be part of the planned action because of a subsisting Court order stopping the NLC from embarking on any such action.

Also, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Imo State Chapter, has cautioned the NLC against any strike by Workers in the State, saying that “Occupy Imo” is “politically motivated.”

The Industrial Court sitting in Owerri had, last Friday, October 27, 2023, granted an order restraining the NLC from embarking on any industrial action in Imo State.

The NLC Chairman said based on the Court order, the planned strike code named  “occupy Imo” had become illegal.

“All the affiliate Unions, we are obeying the court order and we urge all Imo workers to be on their duty posts tomorrow as law abiding citizens,” Nwansi directed.

He said apart from the Court order, the organised Labour in Imo State doesn’t see any reason why the national body should order a strike.

“Workers of Imo State say vehemently no to “occupy Imo” because we have not found reasons enough for the action,”  he argued.

He noted that Labour in Imo State has been on the same page with the State Government and wondered why the national body should cry more than the bereaved.

Rev Nwansi submitted that since the Labour has no industrial dispute with the State government and since the Court has declared the planned strike on Wednesday illegal,  workers should go about their duties in their offices.

On Monday night, the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), Imo State Chapter,  advised the leadership of the NLC, to shelve the idea of occupying Imo State in the name of strike because of the negative impact it will have on the people.

The body said that it is unthinkable for Labour leaders to contemplate strike in Imo or any other part of the country for that matter now because of what the people are already passing through.

Chairman of CAN, Imo State Chapter, Rev. Eches Divine Eches gave the advice when he spoke to newsmen during a courtesy call on Governor Hope Uzodimma at the Government House Owerri by the group.

Rev Eches who said the CAN hadn’t been come to restate its position on the Imo Charter of Equity as the way to go in guaranteeing political stability in Imo, also commended the Governor on the giant strides he has recorded in the State since mounting the saddle.

The CAN also said it was an opportunity for her to “appeal to the Nigerian Labour Congress led by Joe Ajaero to shelve their planned industrial action and occupation of Imo State for its negative impact on the populace of Imo State which include increased hardship and more set back on the economy of the State.”

The CAN Chairman said that the Imo State Government under Governor Uzodimma has remained committed to the prompt payment of salaries of workers in Imo State and the pensioners, including payment of 13th month salary to the workers consecutively for two years now and wondered if NLC leadership under Ajaero is not pursuing political agenda with the call for strike in Imo State.

Rev Eches who said that the CAN is not aware of any sour  relationship between the workers in Imo State and the Government as the workers themselves have at different fora confessed of being well taken care of by the Governor, cautioned those sowing seed of discord between the government and the workers in Imo State to be mindful of the implications.

He said that the only justification for anyone saying that the government of Imo State has not treated the workers well is if the person saying so has political intention at his or her back. He said such thoughts have implications before God and man.

He, however, commended the Governor for his achievements in all sectors of the socio-economic angles of the State like in the roads infrastructure, healthcare, education, youth and women empowerment and job creation through the Skill-Up Imo Project.

Governor Uzodimma who thanked the CAN leadership for their thoughtfulness urged them not to relent in preaching the message of Charter of Equity at the Churches, markets and other social gatherings so that Imo people will have a proper understanding of the topic and the advantage it will confer on everyone.

The Governor reiterated the inequality in the political demography of Imo State, saying that with the Charter of Equity the hue and cry about political contestation will be over.

He noted that the rotation of power from one zone to the other is working in the other States of the South East and that he has resolved to go the same way in Imo State and asked those struggling to seize power at all cost to exercise patience because ‘’power belongs to God and God will give it to those he wants at the appropriate time.”

He thanked the body for supporting his government in the struggle to bring peace to Imo State including being part of the process to enthrone equity in the Imo State political space.

Governor Uzodimma told CAN that the interest of his administration is the “interest of the State anchored on job creation, robust economy that will guarantee better welfare for the people and empowerment of the youths and women.”

He said that he had heard of some conspiracies by enemies of Imo State on how to disrupt the governorship election but assured CAN that the exercise will be free, fair and credible.

Governor Uzodimma emphasized the need to use the Church to drive development to the rural areas “because the Church knows the nuances of development in the rural areas,” assuring that his government will continue to partner with the Church as “over 90 per cent of Imolites are Christians.”

The Governor announced to CAN that the three brand new general hospitals already built in Ohaji, Oguta and Omuma areas will be replicated in other LGAs for effective healthcare services delivery and urged the Churches to brace up to be part of their management.

“Government is gradually restoring confidence of her citizens through the provision of dividends of democracy and it is essential because it is the responsibility of the Government to make life better for her citizens, hence this administration will continue to take bold decisions on the  welfare of her people.”

The Governor reiterated the need for the men of God “to talk to our people to protect our tomorrow,” noting that if he is not a Christian he would have kept quite over the Charter of Equity “because if not for any reason it will favour my zone based on numerical strength which is a prime factor in democracy.”

Some members of the State Executive of CAN, including the Anglican Bishop of Isi Mbano Diocese, Rt Rev Godson Ukanwa, joined at the courtesy call.

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