The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, has said that his colleague in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, was not in Imo State on November 1, 2023 for politics but to fight for the rights of aggrieved workers in the state.
Osifo, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday, said the labour issues in Imo predated the Ajaero-led NLC as alleged by Governor Hope Uzodimma.
“The problem in Imo State actually started in 2020 immediately Hope Uzodimma came to the saddle. In 2021, Joe Ajaero was not the President of NLC,” the TUC boss said.
Ajaero was attacked in Owerri, the Imo State capital, last Wednesday just before a planned protest in the state to press the state government to heed the demands of the workers in the state.
The NLC and the TUC have since ordered shutdown of essential services in Imo as protest for the attack on Ajaero and declared a nationwide strike effective November 14, 2023.
Osifo, during his live appearance on the programme, accused the Uzodimma-led administration of supervising the attack on Ajaero and giving the incident a political colouration.
He said the NLC and TUC National Executive Council (NEC) headed by the current Governor of Kebbi State, Nasir Idris, who was then President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (TUC) went to Imo in 2021 in an attempt to resolve the labour issues with the state government.
“So, this issue predated the administration of Joe Ajaero; Joe Ajaero became the President of NLC in February 2023 but this particular issues has been on ground since 2021,” Osifo explained.
According to him, Uzodimma signed an agreement with labour in May 2023 and is yet to implement any of the details of the agreement.
“Joe Ajaero was not in Imo for politics because there was no need for it; there were issues – there are people that were sacked, that were not being paid, that are being owed several months’ salaries.”
Labour’s showdown over Imo comes just days to the November 11, 2023 governorship poll in the state where the incumbent governor (Uzodimma) is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking re-election. (Channels TV)