Benue Governor Samuel Ortom said in Makurdi on Thursday that a salary syndicate working to frustrate the ongoing workers screening exercise was behind the strike action declared by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
Ortom stated this when the Local Organizing Committee, 2017 International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), paid him a courtesy call at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Benue chapter of the NLC began a one-week warning strike on Tuesday, Sept. 5, over the non-payment of salaries for several months.
State workers are owed six months salaries, while local government and primary school teachers are owed 11 months.
NAN also reports that the ongoing workers screening is the fourth, since Ortom became governor in 2015.
The governor wondered why labour leaders, who had been involved in the disbursement of all allocations to the state, would suddenly embarked on strike, feigning ignorance of the state’s financial situation.
“I smell a rat in the current strike action by workers; I suspect that it might be a ploy to frustrate the ongoing salary verification exercise.
“Upon deeper reflections, I realised that the strike might have been instigated by the same syndicate that was benefiting from the over-bloated salary bill; the group initiated the strike as a strategy to frustrate the verification exercise.”
Ortom, however, vowed that his administration was determined to conclude the screening exercise in order to ascertain the genuine workers on the payroll.
He explained that he had been faithful in implementing his agreement with labour – combining federal allocations of two months to pay one month full salary to all categories of workers.
The governor expressed willingness to support the association to hold the 2017 Convention in the state because of his conviction that only ideas could take the country out of its current challenges.
Ortom also expressed willingness to host Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who shall pay a pre-convention sensitisation visit to the state next week.
He described Soyinka as a man, who has developed his God-given talent to the fullest and had mentored many people across the world, and urged others to also identify their talents and exploit them.
In his remarks, Chairman, organizing committee, Professor Idris Amali, said that the committee had come to express appreciation to the Governor for supporting the activities of the association and accepting to host the conference.