The Imo State Government has described as unfounded, the allegation that it brutalized and chased out workers from their offices with security operatives after it concessioned the parastatals.
The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson had in a press statement, accused the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, of setting a dangerous precedence by maltreating workers in the state and using the police to forcefully eject them from their offices, so as to concession the parastatals.
Mr. Ozo-Eson threatened that organized labour will resist attempts by the Imo State government to concession the parastatals.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, in a statement Thursday, said that the state government only concessioned the management of the parastatals to reposition it for better performance and not the parastatals as reported by the NLC scribe.
According to the statement, “it is important to first and foremost, correct an impression over the action of the State Government on the parastatals. The truth is that Governor Okorocha or the Rescue Mission Government in the State has not concessioned any parastatal in the State. What the government had done was to concession the managements of the parastatals to make them productive. Concessioning the parastatals and concessioning the managements of the parastatals are not the same.
“Again, no ugly development has ever taken place since the issue of concessioning the managements of the parastatals came on board, including resistance by the workers in the establishments, to warrant the involvement of the police in any way and for any reason. So, accusing the Governor of using the police to chase the workers away, arrest, brutalize and tear-gas them was totally false. And we take exception to that lie”.
The statement added that, “we would also want to challenge the NLC National Secretary to prove his allegation, otherwise we would take it as cheap blackmail.
“The state government’s resolve to concession the managements of these parastatals was only borne out of the desire to make them productive. These parastatals are as old as the state, but they had failed or refused to do the job for which they were set up, in the first place.
“No patriotic Nigerian or people-oriented organization would support a situation whereby an establishment would be receiving the approved subventions from the State Government, but for long, would have nothing to display either to justify its existence or justify the financial investment in them, especially when these parastatals are not charitable organizations or NGOs.
“The most unfortunate aspect of the whole story is that even those that were set up to generate revenue for the government had failed to do that and they became parasites on the finances of the State Government with nothing to show for all these. And no responsible or responsive government or governor would see all these and fail to take action.
“Even before concessioning these parastatals, the government had met severally with the leaders of the organized Labour in the state, and in each meeting, the governor himself had taken time to explain why the concession of the managements of these parastatals should be the most acceptable action to take this time, since, even in the private sector, nobody would like to continue making an investment without anything to show for it at the end of the day.
“On the fate of the workers in the affected parastatals, the Governor agreed to pay them all their outstanding salaries and also offered them the options of either being posted out to other government Ministries and Agencies or being paid off since the parastatals need fresh ideas and fresh personnel to re-position them and make them functional to achieve the goals behind their establishment ab-initio.
“However, on the threat of the National Secretary of the NLC, we just want to remind him that Labour unions all over the world are always progressive and not retrogressive. And also let him know, with due respect, that NLC cannot dictate to the Governor of the state or the state government on how to run the affairs of the state”.