Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong says he has fulfilled his pact with workers in the State and is leaving behind a good legacy welfare of improved welfare and a professionalized workforce.
Lalong was speaking at the Workers Day Celebration held at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium Jos with the theme “Workers’ Rights and Socioeconomic Justice”.
Being his last appearance for May Day as Governor of Plateau State, Lalong said the event presents him another opportunity to not only bid them farewell but also reflect on the great relationship he has shared with the workers in the past 8 years.
“I want to specially thank you my dear comrades for standing up to be counted in the task of rescuing Plateau from clutches of underdevelopment and despondency. Looking back at where we took over in 2015, it is clear that a lot of difference has been made not only in the civil service, but the entire sectors of the economy. You will recall that on coming into office, I assured you that the era of salary arrears will be a thing of the past. We immediately paid 5 months withheld wages under no-work-no-pay policy and cleared inherited salary arrears of 8 months from the past administration. The same story applied to pension arrears of over 10 months which we equally cleared” he said.
He said little wonder, the comrades of Plateau State gave him the title of “Governor Alert” which was affirmed and endorsed by the NLC under the leadership of immediate past President Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
Lalong recalled that his administration was among the first in the country to begin the implementation of the thirty thousand naira minimum wage and consequential adjustments.
He said “This Administration in collaboration with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria also provided home renovation loan to over 2,500 civil servants in the approximate sum of three million naira each across Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ease housing challenges they face.This is in addition to the assistance by Government to the Nigeria Labour Congress in the purchase of the land for the NLC Housing Project in Jebbu Miango, which I understand some blocks have been completed and will be commissioned before I leave office”.
According to the Governor, his administration was and still remains among the first and few in the country to grant financial autonomy to the Local Governments, the Judiciary, as well as Legislature.
He said these achievements and more would not have been possible without the remarkable cooperation of the Organised Labour and the synergy that has continued to grow between the various Unions and Government.
“We are highly appreciative of our workers and shall continue to ensure a harmonious government-labour relationship despite the attempt by some politicians and vested interests to come between us and use the labour to antagonise the Government with a view to discrediting it” he said.
Lalong said as he prepares to hand over to the incoming administration, he prays that they will give them the kind of support and cooperation he was given.
NLC Chairman Plateau State Comrade Eugene Manji and his TUC counterpart Comrade Kenneth Shammah said the workers in Plateau are highly appreciative of the love and care shown to them by Governor Simon Lalong in the past 8 years.
They said the Governor apart from clearing all the inherited backlogs of salaries, has remained consistent in ensuring that workers are paid depsite the economic challenges.
However, they enumerated many issues including pending promotions, the implementation of harmonised retirement age for teachers among others which need to be addressed.
Head of Service Plateau State Engr. Sunday Hyat thanked the workers for remaining steadfast and supporting the Government to carry out its mandate.
He said Governor Lalong stands out for his compassion and love for workers by giving approvals for despite several economic challenges.
Guest Speaker Prof. Dung Pam Sha bemoaned the disparity between the workers and elites saying there injustice in earnings in the country which must be addressed without further delay.