A Speech Presented by His Excellency, Chief T. A. Orji (Ochendo), on 2013 Worker’s Day, Governor Abia State, on the occasion of the celebration of the 2013 Workers’ day, holding at the Umuahia Township Stadium, on the 1st day of May, 2013
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
I have the pleasure to address the workers of Abia State on this great occasion of the annual celebration of Workers’ Day. This event which is celebrated world-wide, is in recognition and honor of all workers of the world, who continue to remain the veritable engine of development and the massive achievements that mankind has made in our world and beyond.
Here in Abia State, our Administration always have special reasons for celebrating the achievements of our workers. You were the driving engine of our Administration’s resolve to reposition Abia State and lay the foundation for the sustainable New Face of Abia. You kept faith with our Government as we struggled to liberate our people from impunity and lay the foundation for a new democratized State.
You remained resolute with our Government as we fought insecurity and kidnapping to establish Abia as one of the most secured and safest State in the Federation. And you have not let us down in supporting and promoting our legacy projects, which have come to be our enduring strategy for developing Abia State. And just recently, you were also there to support our ground breaking strategy for empowering our youths, as a means of not only creating jobs, but strengthening our security.
In all these, I am glad to say that the workers of Abia State have proved as reliable allies and partners of government – building faith, building trust, and choosing to maintain the harmony in the State through peaceful settlement of all lingering problems rather hit the streets. For these, I salute you as you celebrate today, and also re-instate our Government’s resolve to continue to honor all agreements and promises reached with your Labor Unions.
In your today’s celebration of a unique workers’ day with the theme: ‘One Hundred Years of Nationhood: The Challenges of National Development’, I will make bold to say that the workers of our State, and indeed the Nation have come a long way. We all, including workers and Governments recognize that even though so much has been achieved, it is not yet time to rest on our oars, for much remains to be done.
The consultation between workers and Government in reaching the best practices in enhancing workers’ welfare and promotion while in service, should remain on-going in the negotiation table rather than in the streets. In other issues such as the supply and demand for electricity power in the Nation, which our workers and our citizens need for effective survival, the present Federal Government is doing what is required to provide lasting solutions.
These are evident in Federal Government policies that encourage private sector involvement in the power sector, as well as recent policies that improve the welfare of both serving and retiring workers of the Power Sector. Our Government will continue to lend support to the Federal Government to enable it faster achieve the objectives set for the power sector for the overall benefit of our people. We have shown this commitment by funding the construction of roads and creating the conducive environment that preserve the workers and secure installations.
Our Government is very conscious of the growing problem of unemployment in our Nation, and especially the additional burden this impose on those still employed. While this is a global problem, our Government will continue to focus on unemployment as an urgent problem that cries for solution. We are doing this through creation of new employment opportunities in the private and public sectors, and through the creation of new conditions that support self-employment.
This approach formed the focus of our recent 1st Ochendo Youth Employment Lecture and distribution of empowerment tools to our youths to put them on the road to self sustenance. At this present moment, we are busy searching the world in far away Canada to bring new investors to Abia State, who will help tap our abundant resources and create jobs that benefit our people. We will keep doing more!
Our Government is very conscious of the impact of excessive and ill-utilized debts in the de-development of our State and our Nation. That is why we have sought to prudently manage our development resources, while at the same time enhancing our Internally-Generated Resources (IGR) for the development of Abia State.
I am however, aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria will only encourage new debts that create value in significant sectoral investments and productivity, rather than those that encourage mere consumption goods. Also, the palliative plans of the Federal Government to reduce poverty and the suffering of our people through Subsidy Re-investment in key social areas will certainly begin to bear fruits and provide succor to suffering masses and workers in the near future.
While our citizens and the entire Nation look forward to a National Health Bill that will address the issues that affect workers and the poor, our Administration will continue to expand the frontiers of health-care delivery to all nooks and crannies of our LGAs; we will continue to develop our model diagnostic centers in Aba and Umuahia, and commission our Dialysis and Cancer Centers in the State, so that they can become useful to controlling the ailments that now affect our workers and citizens and which they seek help abroad. I encourage our workers to begin to patronize these facilities to improve their health conditions.
I will be the first to acknowledge that there is nothing that Governments do for the workers that can be considered an excess. Our Administration’s priority will remain the welfare of Abia workers, especially the payment of your salaries, gratuities and pensions for retirees – which will continue to form the first charge of State expenditure. All arrears owed to Non Government Agencies and parastatals will also soon be cleared.
We will also continue ensure that our workers receive fair wages, and their promotions, carried out on merit and timely. Our Housing plans that provide comfortable office secretariat and affordable living accommodations are on track, and will soon be completed. But most important, our Government will continue to ensure that the security of lives and property of Abians, especially workers are maintained.
While it is not possible to accomplish all the needs of our workers at one swoop, our Government will keep an open communication with your Union, so that we adjust and make amends whenever necessary. But in all these, we will remain prudent, honest and accountable to all Abians.
I therefore urge our workers to learn to do the same, and let this celebration today, be the reason for the re-dedication of our workers to the diminishing values and ethics commitment, higher productivity and patriotism.
In the continuation of our legacy projects in Abia State, we will also not forget our workers and their Unions, and once you commence your Abia State Labor-House, our Administration will be there to support you to the end.
In all these, I will continue to ask for your patience, cooperation and commitment, so that together we can achieve the new Face of Abia and successfully scale mountains to achieve the impossible for our citizens.
Thank you and have a Happy Workers’ Day Celebration!