We ought to be celebrating that one of our brothers, Joe Ajaero, occupies the elevated position of being the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). We ought to have begun benefitting from his position in terms of pallying with the powers that be at ensuring that Imo Workers are given their proper place in the labour space. But Joe came for war!
I am an Owerri man and I have been in this state since my return from overseas occasioned by Ebola and recently COVID-19 attacks and I have observed that no government has given Imo workers the kind of largesse Governor Uzodimma has been rolling out to them. For the first time, there are buses conveying them to and fro their offices free of charge. For the first time, their promotions are being effected and backdated to make them work with pride.
Someone accused the governor of taking care of only the civil servants at the detriment of others. Imagine that the civil servants are receiving thirteen months salaries; yet, Joe Ajaero, thinks that the governor has been uncaring to the plights of the workers. I am privy to all the gains of the civil service in this administration because I work in their domain. Governor Hope Uzodimma truly understands that Imo is a pure civil service state and decided to make the workers more productive by enhancing their services.
Let’s not forget that there was a government in the state that owed workers and pensioners for several months and even advised them to retire to their villages instead of constituting nuisances in the city. In fact, civil servants were asked to begin farming and begin to generate income for the government. All these happened before our very eyes. Today, it’s not the same situation. Civil servants in the state are happy because their salaries are coming regularly and promptly; even pensioners are smiling to the bank. It has never been so in the state before now. Thus, it’s not suprising that NLC Imo State chapter have extricated themselves from the ongoing NLC protests because there was no need for such.
Let’s not forget that a former governor called himself, ‘The Grand Commander of Free Education’ because he introduced free education in the state and even underfunded it. Today, Governor Hope Uzodimma has sustained the free education in the state, funded renovation of schools, built new school plants, paid the necessary fees for school upgrades and even sustained the tertiary institutions with proper funding; yet, he has not called himself the commander of education. He is a silent achiever per execellence!
Joe Ajaoero acted like a man with premeditated intentions in Imo State. Immediately after he was sworn in as NLC President, his first port of call was Imo State, not surprising because Emekuku, his hometown celebrated him but he left Imo State in darkness. He told electricity workers union to proceed on strike because he claimed that there were 11,000 Imo workers who were tagged Ghost Workers unjustly. I am aware that there are many workers whose names were removed from the payroll because of some reasons and I have not been happy that their cases haven’t been resolved till date. Most of the problems were caused by the workers while many were technical errors. One expects Joe Ajaero to use strike as the last option in resolving the matter but No, he must act wildly. Governor Hope Uzodimma is a man who respects labour and rule of law and wouldn’t turn down Ajaero’s request if carefully presented.
Joe Ajaero is like the proverbial young man who believes in fighting his kinsmen instead of fighting the real enemies out there. What happened to the planned Subsidy Removal strike? Joe has been making frantic efforts, consultations and proper use of propaganda in approaching the federal government to reconsider fuel subsidy or provide adequate packages to the citinzenry. He didn’t just go on strike but in Imo State, he wouldn’t wait to hear from the government and he would immediately tell PHCN workers to cut-off electricity as punishment to Imo people including his family members. When one throws stone in the market place it could hit one’s relative. The shocking aspect is that it’s only the electricity workers that are acting while the other unions are going about their normal businesses. This speaks volumes of Ajaero’s divide and rule lifestyle. PHCN is losing billions of naira in this squabble.
The beating given to Joe Ajaero is unwarranted but he caused the stir that provoked the bees to bite. There was a court injunction which he claimed not to be aware. Besides, Imo State is warming for gubernatorial election in a few days and Joe Ajaero thought that it would be better organising labour protest at such a time. It makes his motive to seem political and the wrath of whom he wished to attack was not unexpected. Joe Ajaero misfired in this case and no matter how long electricity is cut off, everyone including his biological relatives will suffer it. By the end of this year, many customers of PHCN will switch over to solar and other green energies; so that Joe Ajaero and his electricity union will consume the light they produce.
Enough is enough!
- Prof. Tony Oha