This is the message the NLC passed to Okorocha in its latest communique

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is accusing Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha of raising a “private militia” bent on “inflicting injuries on innocent workers” in the south eastern state of Nigeria. This accusation follows Okorocha’s alleged sacking of about 3,000 civil servants in 19 of the state’s parastatals, agencies, and departments. The workers were relieved of their jobs on January 16, as the governor announced plans to cut down on the wasteful venture that was keeping “indolent and lazy workers” on payroll.

NLC has since condemned the decision, and a communique was released on Friday, January 29 at the National Executive Council meeting in Lagos to that effect. In the statement, the Congress threatens to shut down the Imo State government, with claims that Okorocha is guilty of persistently retrenching workers, thereby disregarding the previous promises that he made to desist from taking such actions. The Congress further stated that a national action would be taken in Imo State if deemed necessary.

Out of the six major points outlined in the communique calling for government accountability and economic reforms, sections of the third part were especially dedicated to condemning Okorocha’s actions against workers in Imo State. Here, NLC addressed the increasingly problematic situation of non-payment of salaries, gratuities, and pensions which affected the workers, their families, and ultimately, the country.

The Congress voiced its fears that governors such as Okorocha were making workers bear the brunt of the current economic hardship in Nigeria while still illegally rewarding political appointees. According to the statement in the communique, the Congress is willing to mobilise in any state where such injustice is being recorded.

Imo State NLC Chairman, Austin Chilakpu, maintains that the issue which NLC is having with Okorocha is not his particularly based on his move to reduce the state’s workforce, but the inappropriate means in which he went about the process.

Last week, Okorocha attempted to justify his decision by stating that it is what is best for Imo State in the long run. He also posited that the workers were not sacked as widely believed, but merely on ‘technical suspension’, even though they will need to reapply for their previous jobs to be considered for re-hiring. The governor also dissolved the Imo State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), on accusations of embezzling the state’s treasury.

The NLC has presently issued a seven-day ultimatum to Okorocha to doubleback on his decision, or prepare to face the consequences.

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