For the past eight days, the electricity supply in the state has been disrupted by organized labour, and on Wednesday, the Imo Patriot League and multiple Civil Society Organizations implored President Joe Ajaero of the Nigeria Labour Congress to reconsider this course of action.
During a press conference conducted in Owerri, the state capital, Jones Onwuasonya, acting as both convener and spokesperson for the group, underscored that the organized labour’s industrial action had drained N500 billion from the state’s economy.
He pointed out that the state’s economy was on a downward trajectory because organized labour had instructed electricity supply companies in the state to halt power distribution to the residents since the previous week.
The group made claims of Ajaero’s involvement with opposition party leaders in the state to thwart Uzodimma’s bid for reelection.
Others who addressed journalists at the conference included ‘Convener, Imo Transformation Agenda, Ikenna Okol, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Imo State, Ifeanyi Nwanguma; convener, Imo New Generation Vanguard, Chima Uwakwe and secretary, Owerri Artisans Forum, Cosmos Ajaero.’
Onwuasonya said, ‘As you are aware, the Imo State off-season governorship election is set to be held this Saturday, November 11, 2023.’
‘However, we have invited you to alert you to some devious agenda of anti-democratic forces to derail the democratic process of electioneering due to what we find to be a political hatchet job by Comrade Joe Ajaero, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, who is apparently advancing a personal agenda to either confer undue advantage on his preferred candidates or to completely derail the election since it appears that the people of Imo State have made their choice regarding whom they want to elect as their governor in the coming election.’
‘As you all know, the election is a key democratic feature that gives the people the power to elect the leader who has convinced them the most about his or her strategies and ideas for making lives better, prosperous and safe for them. The Imo Patriots’ League believes that the people should be allowed, without any form of intimidation or harassment, to elect their leaders in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and hostilities.’
‘We find it reprehensible that Comrade Joe Ajaero, an Imo son, could bring himself to derail the governorship election because of his personal political agenda, which by all intents and purposes is vindictive and selfish.’
‘The NLC President has not hidden his partisanship, especially as it concerns the upcoming governorship election in Imo State, but we would have expected that he employ democratic methods in campaigning for his candidate instead of abusing his office and exploiting the powers of the labour force to harass and intimidate ordinary Imolites as a way of blackmailing the government of the State.’
‘In the last seven days, Imo State has lost over 500 billion Naira due to Comrade Joe Ajaero’s imposed blackout on Imo people. Small-scale business owners are rapidly going out of business due to the high cost of running their businesses, hotel owners are being stifled, students are left desperate in search of sources of illumination to study their books, and civil servants have had their basic budgets strained because they are not able to preserve their food. Everyone and every sector in Imo State is adversely affected by the ongoing Ajaero-imposed blackout on our dear State. And we ask; Is the Labour Union now against or for the people?’
‘Apparently, the ongoing industrial action is unpopular with a large majority of the Imo workforce, who have clearly defied Ajaero’s call for strike action. Across different ministries, schools and agencies, workers are reporting to their workplaces, and people are going about their businesses because they do not see any genuine reason to go on a protest against the State government. Except for the punishing power outage executed at the whims of Joe Ajaero by his acolytes at the Transmission Company of Nigeria, there is not a single sign that NLC’s order for a total shutdown of the State is being adhered to. This is clear evidence that Ajaero is on his own.’
‘The fundamental responsibility of a labour union and, by effect, a Labour leader is to fight for the improved welfare of the masses. Unfortunately, under the Joe Ajaero-led NLC, we are seeing a different side of labour unionism, which prioritises individual and clique political interests and aspirations ahead of the people’s interest.’
‘Gentlemen of the press, we plead with you to use your good and very influential pens and cameras to bring the attention of the world to the ongoing travesty of labour principles as exemplified by the actions of Comrade Joe Ajaero and prevail on him and the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and all their affiliate unions to reconsider this ill-conceived industrial action, which is steadily eroding the integrity and popularity of the NLC.’
‘The Federal Government, civil society organisations and the international community are put on notice, to hold Comrade Joe Ajaero responsible should this election be derailed in any form, and we invite relevant stakeholders to join in prevailing on Comrade Joe Ajaero to keep his personal interests aside and put Imo and the people’s interest ahead and allow peace to reign.’