By Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has promised to review the cases of the sacked state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Akeem Ambali, along with 15 members and the suspension of 19 Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) officials by the state government two years ago.
While addressing labour unionists under the leadership of the NLC at the state secretariat of the union, Abeokuta, the state capital, on friday, Abiodun stated that his administration will not take the issue of labour lightly but will form a prominent parts of his mission – statement.
“It is uplifting that our meeting today, we will not disappoint you. I want to emphasise that our party is a progressive one and it is not a progressive family that will be anti-labour”, said Abiodun.
He, however, highlighted the pillars of his administration’s mission which he said an individual or even a political party alone can achieve.
The APC governorship candidate noted that, it requires effective engagement and collective commitment of all stakeholders, including the public service, to achieve hence the central theme of our Manifesto and Programme of Action is Working Together for Our Future.
“Let me highlight here extracts from our manifesto that are specific to our commitment to improving the welfare of Ogun State workers and they are establishment of Ministry of Labour and Productivity to effectively engage workers and improve workers productivity and welfare; appointment of teachers to apex positions to put them at par with their public servants’ counterparts; restructuring of the contributory pension scheme and inauguration of State and Local Government Pension Boards; empower and strengthen the Local Governments so they can carry out their statutory mandate and responsibilities effectively as constitutionally guaranteed; review and restore the roles and responsibilities of Public Service as implementation engine of government policies and programmes; and implement continuous capacity building programme and provision of conducive work environment and tools. Others are to introduce performance-based incentives in public service; prioritise prompt payment of salaries, remittance of global deductions and gratuities for retirees; and develop affordable Labour Estates for workers in different parts of the state.
Besides, Abiodun said he is not unaware of the growing cynicism and disbelief about promises made by political officer seekers, especially in the course of the campaign.
“This mistrust is not unexpected given the experiences of Ogun State workers and the electorate in general over the years.
However, in addition to my personal values that underpin all my endeavours, I always keep at the back of my mind that if my teacher parents had not been treated fairly and with dignity by government of their time, I may not be where it has pleased God to place me today not to talk of vying for the governorship seat of a state. Therefore, I regard my promises as sacred and solemn commitments that must be pursued with sincerity and vigour.
“To ensure the above initiatives translate to delivered benefits to Ogun State workers when, by the grace of God and the support of our people, I’m elected the Governor, the following are some of the steps that will be taken and they include the immediate stop to all the current anomalies and irregularities, such as delayed salary payment and non-remittance of deductions; constitution of a committee of stakeholders – including representatives of labour, government and other relevant stakeholders-to develop modalities and timelines to clear the backlog and arrears and redress past injustice, including but not limited to sacked labour officials. This committee will be inaugurated in the first month of our Administration; and a periodic review and evaluation of implementation of agreed actions
“Ogun State is at yet another milestone in its 43 years of existence. It is time to go to the polls to elect a new Governor and I’m hopeful that with trust in God and the overwhelming support of our people, I will have the opportunity to be the fifth democratically elected Governor that will build on the strong foundation and successes of all my predecessors while learning from and avoiding their missteps. The support of Ogun State workers is very crucial in this journey not just because of your numbers, but because of your influence in the society and the credible voice you represent. Therefore, I request and trust I can count on your support and that of your affiliates, friends, associates and families in my quest to be the next Governor of Ogun State on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC)”, said Abiodun.
Earlier in his remarks, national leader of the APC and former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, is optimistic Abiodun will succeed Sen Ibikunle Amosun, as next governor of the state, come May 29.
According to Osoba, the APC is bringing to the state a governor that has a listening ear that is ready to take to corrections.
He said at 80 years, he has nothing to fear but to say the truth.
“I don’t want to denigrate the office of governor because Amosun is still in saddle.
“I am proud to say that, when Amosun contested in 2011 on AC platform, I spent all the money that I had on me to make him governor.
“He requested for four Commissioner nominees from me and I took the list to him in his office. Thank God, Leke Adewolu was on seat that very day. The only regret I had was that I gave him the list containing the four names and he tore it in my presence. He now asked me to write a fresh one and bring it to him. And I looked stupid. That was my only regret.
“Let me tell you, our meeting with you today has gone beyond a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) because it is a useless paper.
We will set up a committee beyond the MOU. The committee will comprise of those who have served in various capacities in the state government, look at the monthly internal generated revenue, how much are being owed and other things.
So, we will engage you, labour unions, so that when Abiodun is sworn in on May 29, he would have the record and start hitting the ground running”, said Osoba.
He noted that having many political appointees is a waste of money and promised that the APC will not repeat the mistake.
“I am here to testify as father of the Mr Governor and to be his guarantor”, said the former governor.
However, the state NLC Chairman, Comrade Akeem Ambali, described Abiodun ad a topmost contender in the governorship contest.
He assured that very soon there will be a total change that will beckon a new dawn.
The coming governorship election, Ambali said, is a payback time for a new song to be sung in the state.