Makinde backtracks, apologizes to workers, but not yet uhuru on salary or palliatives
Oyo state governor Engr Seyi Makinde has soft-pedaled on his hard stance against the state’s civil servants as he showed up Monday at the protest ground at the secretariat, Agodi Ibadan to address them during which he said he had apologized to the labour leaders whom he revealed reciprocated the gesture in return.
It is recalled the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) throughout last week blocked access to the secretariat in protest against the refusal of the state governor to personally address them over various demands including immediate announcement of palliatives for workers, payment of salary deductions, upward review of pension allowances, payment of leave bonus, payment of gratuities to retirees who have been stagnated since the year 2021 and release of promotion letters for the Year 2021 and 2022.
Visibly the governor in a state broadcast Saturday expressed (concealed) annoyance directing security agencies to break up the protest if it persisted till Monday to allow civil servants gain access to their duty posts within the secretariat.
He posited the action of the labour unions amounted to economic sabotage and insensitivity while going ahead to announce various palliative measures with none of the demands of labour unions directly addressed.
The labour leaders responded by asking workers to resume at the protest ground Monday to continue the agitations.
However in a swift turn of event the state’s helmsman made a dramatic appearance at the rally Monday accompanied by some of his aides to address the workers.
He informed he met with labour leaders after his broadcast during which he further revealed the two sides apologized to each other.
Makinde noted the protest was uncalled for in view of his past sacrifices to put premium on the welfare of workers regretting that the action had cost the state humongous revenues.
This is as he promised quarterly parley with the labour unions to forestall breakdown in relationship in the future.
“Well, I had engaged your leaders and I pointed out some of these things were not meant to happen, I apologized to them and they also apologized to me.
“If there was anything I’ve also done, this is our state, governors will come and go, five years ago I wasn’t the one here and three plus years to come I wouldn’t be here as the governor but our state will remain.
“So, in everything we wish to do, let us remember that this is our state, we have nowhere else we can call our home.”
Going philosophical he posited that the labour leaders could tomorrow find themselves in his shoes recalling the case of former Edo state governor Adams Oshiomole who was labour leader before becoming governor and therefore stated, “So, I told them that when I made that broadcast, I made it in annoyance especially the part that concerns labour, I was angry because I also need encouragement, you’re supposed to encourage me.
“There are people who don’t want progress for our state, they will come in between you and I promised them that every quarter now, we would have a parley with the leadership of Labour, so that communication gap we will close it.”
He added, “And for this one week you were protesting, it has been a loss and you can see it in the internal revenue figures of the state and most of the things you’re demanding for would be sorted by funds, so, please, in any human relationship, there are bound to be misunderstandings.”
In separate remarks earlier, Oyo state NLC chairman, Comrade Kayode Martins and his TUC counterpart, Bosun Olabiyi, thanked the governor admitting he did not truly deserve the protest treatment taking cognizance of his past efforts regarding workers’ welfare.
Expressing confidence workers’ demands would be met they assured the administration of continued cooperation and support.
Earlier, reacting, many gave the governor hard knocks over his earlier stance that security agents should disperse the protesting workers should they gather again Monday.
The opposition party in the state All Progressives Congress (APC) raised alarm that by the directive to break the rally Makinde had turned into a “despot,” while a lawyer lampooned the governor maintaining that as long as the protest was peaceful the workers had the right to hold rally.