BY COMRADE JERRY NNUBIA, CHAIRMAN, NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, ANAMBRA STATE
All trade unions and professional associations in Anambra appreciate and commend our amiable and indefatigable governor for all his efforts towards the development of our dear state through his four pillars of development. In the last three years of this administration, Anambra State has witnessed a lot of positive transformation. Anambra is currently the safest state in Nigeria. We are equally witnessing infrastructural revolution in the state, excellent records in the education sector, diversification of the state economy through mechanized agriculture, attraction of direct and indirect foreign investments worth billions of dollars to the state among other achievements.
Our labour friendly Governor has also shown a lot of goodwill and favourable disposition towards the welfare of workers. Salaries, pensions and leave allowances are regularly paid as and when due. The prompt payment has earned him the nick name “THE ALERT MAN”. Even intellectually, mentally and physically, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State is alert.
His kind disposition and goodwill towards workers are also manifested in his yearly Christmas largesse of a bag of Anambra-produced rice to every worker in the state. He has procured several buses for workers and continues to subsidise their operations on strategic routes.
The leadership of organized labour and the entire workers of the state have therefore bestowed on Governor Obiano the award of the “Best Labour Friendly Governor of Anambra State”. God will continue to strengthen our governor. The reward for good work is more work. The award to Obiano took place on May 1, 2017 at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, during the May Day celebration.
May 1st was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 4th May, 1886, massacre of workers in Haymarket Square, Chicago, United States. They were pressing for an 8-hour work-day and other decent working conditions. So when we remember that people were shot so that we could have 8-hour workday; if we remember that homes with families in them were burnt to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend; when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting against working conditions and child labour only to be beaten down by police and company thugs, we understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted. People fought for the rights and dignity we enjoy today. Still, there is a lot more to fight for.
Nigeria’s economy is currently is in recession. If one therefore views the working conditions of Nigerian workers vis-a-vis the present economic recession, one will only feel very sorry for the working class in Nigeria. They are the worst hit by the present harsh economic challenges. Inflation is at its highest level (17.26%), with the prices of goods and services hitting the roof while the wages of the workers remain static at N18,000 minimum wage. It is necessary to point out that as of 2011 when the N18,000 minimum wage was approved, a dollar was exchanging for N160, but today one dollar exchanges for well over N300.
Governor Obiano Responds
I acknowledge the huge support that Anambra workers have given to me and my team in the past three years. I also commend Anambra workers and their colleagues across Nigeria for coping with the harsh economic challenges. I salute THEIR resilience in the midst of a contracting economy. I admire their belief in the brightness of our dream as a people of uncommon courage. Our dream is far too bright to be eclipsed by the dark clouds of economic recession. In the midst of a pervasive economic slump, my administration launched a comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package which has been praised as revolutionary and humane. Despite the ongoing recession, we raised the bar in our approach to the welfare of the workers of Anambra State, to say nothing about being the only administration in recent years to increase workers’ salaries.
Before November this year, 100 units of housing at the Civil Servant Estate in Isiagu will have been completed, allocated and ready to be occupied by their prospective owners. 100 people among you will be proud owners of their own homes before November! That is my Special Workers’ Day gift. The Federal Mortgage Bank has approved the necessary funds. They are the first batch of 1000 units of housing we are building for civil servants and members of the organized labour in Anambra State. My administration has already earmarked 100 hectares of land in Isiagu for this estate. So, if you are not among the first set of beneficiaries, your name might be in the next phase.
While the rest of the country is reeling from the shocks of recession, Anambra State has attracted a major foreign direct investment valued at over $2bn US dollars for the Anambra Airport City Project which I flagged off at Umueri recently. In the next one week or so, Agulu Lake Hotel Resort will be taken over by the Golden Tulip Group in the Netherlands. The hotel will be run in the finest traditions of world class hotels across the globe.
The Airport City Project and the arrival of Golden Tulip are clear indications that our future is brighter than our present. Three years ago, some of our enterprising brothers and sisters did not consider our beloved state safe enough for investment. Now, we are attracting quality investors from different parts of the world to Anambra State. The two investments will lead to thousands of jobs, boost Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and the domestic economy at large. Once our IGR hits N2.3billion monthly, salaries will be reviewed again.
Our young graduates will soon no longer face the pressure of having to relocate to Lagos or Abuja to find a decent job. We will create enough pools of excellence to absorb the human capital that our institutions produce. The road is long and the journey may be rough, but we have taken a few steps of faith already.