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Workers’ Day 2018 speech by Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State

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BEING AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE, ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI ODUNAYO AKEREDOLU, SAN, ON THE OCCASION OF 2018 MAY DAY CELEBRATION HELD AT GANI FAWEHINMI FREEDOM ARCADE ON TUESDAY, 1ST MAY, 2018
PROTOCOL

Great Nigerian Worker!

I am greatly honoured to be in your midst for today’s May Day celebration, being the second since assumption of office last year. I am particularly grateful to the Almighty God for allowing us to meet again on this occasion. It is my hope that all of us will rise from this forum with renewed dedication to serve the good people of this country.
This day is usually set aside not only for celebration but, more importantly, for stock-taking. It is a moment when workers and the representatives of the three tiers of government meet to tell themselves some basic truths. They are also afforded the opportunity to reach some level of understanding on issues bordering on workers’ welfare and expectations of employers. This occasion should not be different.
I stand before you, emboldened, not only by virtue of eminence of public office occupied at present. I am back here to also pronounce, boldly, on promises kept. I shall be leaving this podium today again, imbued with confidence which translates to evidential performance, shorn of noise-making. I shall be back, yet again, God willing, to interact with workers on the arduous task of social engineering. I have no doubt that this Administration will continue to enjoy the support of both workers and the people of the State.

I join others, most enthusiastically, to celebrate Nigerian workers, especially those in the public service in Ondo State. I seize this auspicious moment to thank them for the continued understanding liberally extended to this Administration at the most difficult moment. They deserve an especial mention for the resilience and renewed dedication for optimum service to the people.

I thank the leadership of the organized labour for the continued exhibition of maturity, understanding and support for the Administration in these challenging times. I crave sustained rapprochement between workers and the Government in the State as we struggle to meet demands on the welfare of workers and the generality of the people.
I need not remind workers that this Administration inherited a huge debt portfolio when it assumed office last year. It is also a notorious fact that a heavy burden of salary arrears of seven months was on the State. We promised to offset all arrears owed. We have been able to keep the promise, partly. Four months out of the seven months salary arrears owed has been paid so far. We have paid salaries till date.

There has also been a monthly release of N200m to the Pensions and Transitional Department to offset backlog of gratuities of retired public servants who had served this State meritoriously. Pensions are also paid with salaries of workers. These efforts are in fulfillment of our avowed commitment to prioritise the welfare of workers and that of our “senior citizens”.

This Administration has kept its promise not to encourage partisan politics truncate the careers of deserving public servants. We made a solemn pledge to workers and God that the issue of promotion would be determined on merit. We present our score card today to you and posterity on our performance.

The last time Permanent Secretaries were appointed in Ondo State Civil Service was in 2012. There was a lot of disaffection among workers, especially the hard working and committed civil servants whose careers were stagnated. There was deep frustration as erstwhile juniors were promoted above their senior colleagues in the service on account of extraneous considerations, hitherto unknown to civil service regulations. This obnoxious practice negated the principles of Equity and Law.

We did not stop at mere avowal to uphold the principles of equity and justice. We have appointed 15 Permanent Secretaries and 1 Tutor-General based on merit. We shall be appointing other deserving career civil servants. Nobody will suffer persecution under our watch. We will continue to encourage our workers to give their best. We will not relent in ensuring that all interests are protected in the quest for optimum service delivery.

This Administration has approved the sum of N500m as car loan for civil servants in the State. There is also the Housing Loan which is being disbursed on a continual basis. We shall keep to our promise to train and retrain public servants for enhanced performance.

May I, at this juncture, state the obvious, ladies and gentlemen. The current state of affairs is depressing. We are far away from our destination, even if we have found the right path. The journey to redemption is arduous, no doubt. All of us must show sufficient commitment to drag the state out of poverty. The practice of near-total dependence on Federal Allocation must change. Other states can afford to be complacent, not our dear Ondo State whose people’s industry contributed immensely to the country’s GDP in the past. It is a tragic irony that some people now refer to our State as a civil service enclave where governance has been reduced, virtually, to payment of salaries, allowances, grants and subventions.

The retrogressive attitude of over-dependence on oil revenue has had its debilitating effects on the polity. It has exposed even the workforce to a charge of indolence. It has rendered claims based on perceived entitlements suspect. It has reduced our artisans to the deplorable status of mere serfs in their own country. Our people are unable to measure or feel the real impact and justification for an over-bloated public service, 1% of the population, which gobbles 95% of the earnings of the State. The pervasive poverty in the land is traceable to a largely unproductive and parasitic workforce.

This Administration solicits the support of the workers, nay the generality of our people in the informal sector. We have taken fundamental steps to reverse the backward trend. We will continue to encourage genuine investors to partner with our Government for the development of the neglected sectors of the economy. We appeal to workers to adopt a new attitude towards the business of governance. It is only this progressive partnership which holds a true redemptive promise.

Let me congratulate the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and all their affiliates in Ondo State on the commemoration of the 2018 Workers’ Day.

I thank you all for your understanding and tolerance.
I thank you all for your patience.

ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI O. AKEREDOLU, SAN
GOVERNOR, ONDO STATE

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