Anambra workers and pensioners will ever recollect, with nostophobia though, when public offices and schools were locked for almost one year as a result of non-payment of salaries and pensions; when they were cajoled as deadwood. In that better forgotten pathetic days, students and pupils lost almost one year, workers who could not bear it, especially couples working as public servants, died; workers became beggars and chronic debtors, while their children roamed the streets, hawking wares to help their parents augment. Workers turned to be hoi-poloi, who were evaded and avoided by landlords, landladies, traders and sellers of wares. They were snubbed and slighted with protuberance anywhere they went.
There was turning point, however, when the multiple award-winning Governor Willie Obiano came on board. Obiano keyed into the vision of the United Nations, soon after his inauguration on March 17, 2014, by recognizing the imperative of a motivated workforce. This, he proved, by increasing workers’ salaries by fifteen percent in 2015. Since then, Akpokuedike has shown outstanding and exemplary disposition to the welfare of workers and pensioners in the state.
In addition, his administration formulated an unprecedented policy of ensuring that on or before the twenty-fifth of every month, workers smile to the banks to receive their salaries. This feat has made workers to nickname Obiano the “alert governor”.
Furthermore, Akpokuedike has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that workers’ welfare is sine–qua-non to enhanced productivity by ensuring that workers are given a bag of Anambra rice every December. No other state government in the federation has achieved this feat. Governor Obiano equally ensures that promotions are in line with the civil service rules.
Again, the present administration procured mass transit buses to ply the Onitsha, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and Otuocha routes to convey workers to and fro work at highly subsidized rates. To further demonstrate his penchant for motivation, the governor constituted a committee to study the issues concerning the welfare of workers.
The Obiano administration also approved the scheduling of the workers of some parastatals into the Pension Scheme as well as liquidated their arrears of gratuities and pensions owed their retired staff. Teachers handling core subjects and those in hard to reach areas earn higher than other workers as Akpokuedike gives them additional incentive as motivation.
The irony of this rare show of commitment of the governor to the workers in the state is that it is happening at a time in the nation’s history when some states, even with the bail-out funds from the federal government and the oil producing states, still owe their workforce some months of arrears of salaries. While some state governments in the federation are involved in one faceoff or the other with the labour unions in their states, the labour unions in Anambra State maintain a high level of cordiality with the Obiano administration.
Little wonder the Federal Government of Nigeria announced Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano of Anambra state as the winner of the Award as the Most Outstanding Governor On Workers’ Welfare. The award, which was part of the Nigeria Public Sector Summit and Awards, was organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government (The Presidency), Abuja, in collaboration with the House of Representatives Committee on Governmental Affairs.
According to the award confirmation letter from the organizers, Governor Obiano was recognized out of others in the thirty-six states in Nigeria and Abuja for his “labour-friendly policies, prompt payment of wages and salaries, as well as commitment to human capital development”.
Furthermore, almost all the labour leaders in the state affiliated to NLC and TUC, apart from applauding the remarkable gesture by the federal government of Nigeria, went head to honour the governor in one way or the other. This is because Governor Obiano has always shown strong and positive disposition towards the welfare of Anambra workers.
The workers, on the other hand, have equally supported him to implement his policies and programmes and promise to extend same hands of fellowship to his successor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, whom the workers in the state massively voted for. Ndi Olu Anambra therefore expect more robust co-operation and enhanced welfare from Professor Soludo.
WRITTEN BY COMR. HUMPHREY NWAFOR