A SPEECH PRESENTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF T. A. ORJI (OCHENDO), GOVERNOR ABIA STATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE 2012 ANNUAL WORKERS’ DAY, HOLDING AT THE UMUAHIA TOWNSHIP STADIUM, ON THE 1st DAY OF MAY, 2012.
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
I have the honor and privilege to address you today, on this occasion of the celebration of Workers’ Day. Traditionally, the 1st day of May of every year, has been set aside – worldwide, to celebrate and appreciate the contribution of the workers of the world, in whatever development that mankind has attained; – and there is so much to commend our workers of Abia State.
This year’s Workers’ Day Celebration, with the theme:
‘Right to work. Food and Education, Panacea for Insecurity’, is coming at a unique time in Abia State. It coincides with the one year anniversary, when the workers of this State voted massively for our Party PDP, to liberate Abia State and enthrone ideal democracy, freedom of choice and aspiration for all Abians.
I salute the workers of Abia State for keeping faith with our Government as we struggled in the past year to strengthen our nascent democracy, preserve our security of lives and property; create Job opportunities to empower our youths, and dealing with other lingering issues- such as improving our agricultural food production, infrastructure, and managing our school system.
Through all these competing demands, the workers of Abia State continued to trust our Government, and you did not embark on any disruptive industrial actions. Instead, where there were disagreements, you chose to bow to amicable settlement and peaceful resolutions.
I salute the leadership of the NLC and the TUC of Abia State, for supporting our security and peace efforts in the State required to improve the State economy, without abandoning the needs and the rights of our workers.
Since the period your votes helped liberate Abia State from the clutches of oppression and impunity, our government has focused on the development of the economy of this State and improvement on the welfare of our workers. We have implemented the new national minimum wage for workers and are paying way above what other States have committed to.
We have commenced the construction of a befitting new secretariat complex and will complete it in record time, so that our workers can move to work in relative comfortable environment. We will continue to promote our workers- as when due, as well as provide other required incentives.
Our Housing Estates at Amuba, Adelabu, and Isieke are all focused on providing decent and affordable accommodation for our workers.
Our desire for a harmonious working relationship with our labour unions, has led to the creation of a labour desk in the Government House, with a former Chairman of NLC, as a Special Adviser to the Government. We will continue to seek the path of cooperation with our workers, and in return build their full support and acceptance of Government’s good intentions.
I will note here, that the primary basis of our State’s cooperation with Labour Unions in this State, is built on our understanding of the issues affecting Labour, and our pro-activeness in addressing them. I assure you that we will continue to follow this path in all outstanding labour issues in the State.
We are particularly aware of the non-implementation of the minimum wage bill in three parastatals of our State, which include ADP, Abia State Library Board and Abia State Council for Arts and Culture.
While we are working on the independence of some of our State parastatals, to enable them assist in improving the State’s IGR, I need to assure the Workers’ Unions, that the issue of disparity in the payment of the minimum wage in the State is being addressed.
Also, as a pensionable worker like all of you, I am very sensitive to the plight of Abia pensioners, and know that we have been in arrears in meeting our obligations to retirees in the payment of gratuities and accruing pensions.
We will continue to do everything possible to improve our financial status, including internally generated revenue, so that we are able to honor our obligations to workers – as and when due; including the prompt payments of salaries and special allowances due to our medical and health workers.
Our biometric audit of our State work force is still ongoing, especially in the LGAs, and I urge those resisting the staff audit exercise to cooperate with Government in achieving an optimum audit, so that we can pan better on our recurrent expenditures in human resources, as well as begin to fill the gap in staffing, where they exist.
The welfare of workers will continue to occupy a primary position in the agenda of our administration, and I am proud of the cordial relationship existing between Labour and our Government. This collaborative effort is the sure way to our collective prosperity, security and welfare of all Abians.
Our Government will be ready to assist Abia Workers in your drive to build a befitting Labour House in the State Capital, for the promotion of labour values. We promise to be there with you when you make the first move, and we will honor our outstanding promises made to you.
As we celebrate today’s workers’ day, I urge all our workers to renew their faith, support and devotion to our Government. We certainly mean well to all Abians, and especially to our workers.
That is why we are in a hurry to develop this State, and our efforts are directed towards making this State better for all Abians, including our workers. That is why we must build a sustainable economy for Abia State, and a more secured State for all of us, – where our workers are the true engine of that pursuit. God willing, we will not fail you
I will end this address by renewing my confidence in the abilities of Abian workers; and as we celebrate today, I call for a re-dedicated work-ethics from our workers, and a recommitment to the general good of our people and our State.
May God bless the workers of Abia State!
Long live Abia State, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.