Battle between Imo State Government, led by Governor Hope Uzodimma and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC is causing untold hardship on the residents, businesses and almost putting the state into total lockdown since on Thursday.
It could be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress has urged Imo State residents to stock up their homes with basic needs to survive as the Union prepares for an indefinite strike.
President of NLC, Joe Ajaero said the state government has deliberately terrorized residents through some negative actions of some operatives using the powers of the state.
Joe Ajaero said that the state government, through its information commissioner has been peddling falsehood.
He accused the Imo state government of turning the once-prided “Eastern Heartland” into a toxic and extremely unpleasant environment.
“Hobbesian state of nature, a state once prided itself as the Eastern Heartland has become prevalent, exposing not just workers in the state but institutions and individuals to the most horrendous of scare, fear, and violence in their daily activities.
“In the pursuit of our legitimate strike action to restore sanity to the state’s industrial relations sphere, we wish to advise that those traveling to Imo state through the airport to look for other alternatives, those that make use of petroleum products should make efforts to seek alternatives and those that use electricity to seek other options outside the National Grid.
“We are resolved to press home our demands and until these infractions are remedied, we will continue escalating the industrial action till the government is compelled to show reason and restore meaningful and effective dialogue in the state”, Joe Ajaero said.
Ajaero added that the reasons the NLC decided to shutdown Imo State included 20 months salary arrears owed to some workers stigmatized as ghost workers; declaration of about 11,000 workers in the state as ghost workers; intimidation and harassment of Trade Union leaders; and continued use of thugs and instruments of violence against workers in the state among others.
Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, on Saturday sacked his Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Chief Ford Ozumba, over the on-going face-off between the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the state government.
A statement by the governor’s media aide, Oguwike Nwachuku, in Owerri, partly read, “Governor Uzodimma has approved the immediate removal of Chief Ford Ozumba, Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, from office.
“Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Declan Emelumba says the governor directed Chief Ozumba to hand over to the Permanent Secretary at the ministry with immediate effect,’’ the statement read.
Enugu Electricity Distribution Company has shut power supply to Imo State since Thursday in compliance with NLC’s directive.
A statement by the Head, Corporate Communications, EEDC, Emeka Ezeh, on Friday, said that the communities affected should ensure electricity infrastructure serving them were not attacked by vandals who might want to take advantage of the situation to attack and vandalize electricity equipment.
“The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) wishes to inform her esteemed customers in Imo State that the loss of supply currently being experienced is as a result of the industrial action by the organized labour union in Imo State.
“This led to the shutting down of our source of supply, leaving us with no energy to distribute.
“As a result, all our customers under Imo State are without electricity supply.
“We understand the inconveniences this situation will cause our customers, and we are hopeful that the issue will be resolved within the shortest possible time so we can restore supply to our customers.
“We therefore appeal to our customers to be vigilant and ensure the electricity infrastructure serving them are not attacked by vandals who might want to take advantage of the situation to attack and vandalize electricity facilities.
“We remain committed and working assiduously to deliver improved services”, EEDC press release reads.
While Imo State was cut off from the National Grid by EEDC, information from residents in the state indicated that the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has directed its Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, and other members to stop all fuel distributions and sales in Imo State as part of the ongoing Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, strike in the state.
A report by News Agency of Nigeria cited in Primium Times news media also reads thus:
“Hoteliers in Imo State on Saturday urged the state government and the state’s chapter of the NLC to settle their differences to save the tourism industry from collapse.
“The face-off has led to total blackout in Owerri since Thursday as it grounded the operations of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, which feeds power to Imo.
“The blackout has consequently put the hoteliers at risk as patronage ebbed out.
“Chairman of the Imo chapter of the Nigerian Hoteliers Association, Chima Chukwunyere, told reporters in Owerri on Saturday the effect of the face-off on the tourism industry was becoming untoward.
“He called on the parties to sheath their swords and save the industry before it became late.
“According to him, the high cost of diesel and on-going cash crunch were enough challenges for the industry which continued to battle with multiple taxations in a dwindling economy.
“He described the tourism industry as the second highest employer of labour in Imo and called on the parties to quickly resolve their differences in the interest of the state and her economy”.