The organized labour under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has vowed to take action against Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma following the brutalization of its national president, Joe Ajaero in Owerri, the Imo State capital on Wednesday.
This was as the State Governor, while reacting to the attack on the NLC president on Thursday, accused Ajaero, who is an indigene of the State, of meddling in the state’s politics.
According to the governor, the NLC president had tried to blackmail his government over non-payment of salaries even though the governor insisted that all Imo State workers have been paid their due wages.
Uzodimma said Ajaero must learn to draw a line between his role as a labour leader and being a partisan Imo State indigene.
But the organized labour and other sister unions, through the NLC Head of Information, Benson Upah, who spoke with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, has vowed to take action against the state governor noting that a decision would be taken once its organs meet.
Upah said, “There will be a full and appropriate response. As soon as the organs meet, you will be availed the details.”
Comrade Joe Ajaero had on Wednesday, gone to Owerri, the Imo State capital where it was gathered that he went to mobilize workers for a strike.
According to , Ajaero had in a press briefing on Sunday, accused the Imo State government of “violating the rights of the Nigerian workers in the state” and, therefore, vowed to mobilize members of the union in the state for a strike.
The Head of Information of the NLC, Benson Upah, said Ajaero was picked up at the state secretariat of the NLC in Owerri and taken to an unknown location, after which he reappeared hours later, brutalized.
The NLC accused the state government of masterminding the attack on Ajaero, who was injured and hospitalized.
But the governor, Hope Uzodimma, on Thursday, refuted the claim while speaking to State House Correspondents in Abuja after meeting with President Bola Tinubu to receive the APC flag as the ruling party’s governorship candidate for Imo State.
Uzodimma said, “What has happened in this ugly coincidence is that the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress is from Imo State and has not been able to demarcate between being a national leader of an organisation and then an interested party in local politics.
“I understand the sensitivity of this event (protest). But I want you people to be very careful because there is an attempt to mix up partisan politics or an attempt to blackmail my government.
“I can tell you that my people are already aware; that was why the NLC Imo State chapter addressed a world press conference that what their national leadership is doing is not correct and that they are not going to join any strikes or protests.
“And in the process, they decided to dissolve them to put in a caretaker. Of course, I’m the chief security officer and I have a responsibility to intervene. I encourage the national leadership not to dissolve a management team that their tenure had not expired, and that was what they did.”
The governor, who said he does not interfere with labour matters, noted that he has convinced his “workers in Imo State to believe in me, and that trust is what opposition parties are trying to fight.”
Uzodimma argued that his administration did not owe workers’ salaries.
“No wonder the entire labour congress of Imo State chapter endorsed me and I’m the only candidate they are supporting in the election. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners also endorsed me,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, on Thursday, said that those accusing the state government of having hands in Ajaero’s travails were mischief makers.
A statement by the government said, “Imo State government led by Governor Hope Uzodimma has washed its hands clean concerning the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero.”
The commissioner said he recalled that the strike had been called off and “wondered what Ajaero was doing in Owerri in defiance of the order of the court, which warned of severe consequences against disobedience.”