• Approves N2 Billion for Gratuities

From Joe Effiong, Uyo

As part of his efforts to achieve the food security and sufficiency goals of the ARISE Agenda, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, has declared every first and third Friday of the month as work-free days. This initiative aims to enable workers to effectively engage in farming activities.

Governor Eno made the announcement at the 2024 May Day celebration held at the Uyo Township Stadium, Uyo, with the theme “People First.” He emphasized that since taking office, his administration has prioritized the welfare of workers and will continue to do so.

The governor disclosed that N16.1 billion has been released for the payment of arrears of gratuity. He further ordered the immediate release of an additional N2 billion to further reduce the backlog of gratuity owed to retired workers in the state. This brings the total amount paid by his administration for gratuity to N18.1 billion.

Eno expressed his appreciation to organized labor for their strong working relationship, stating, “During our successful campaign, I pledged to continue strengthening the bonds of our relationship, and I can confidently say that almost one year later, I have kept my promise. We have even exceeded your expectations.”

“I would also like to thank organized labor for your overwhelming support during the March 18th elections. That support has brought me here today as the elected Governor of this state. We will continue to do our best to ensure that workers’ welfare receives priority attention.”

“Today, I believe we have fulfilled some of those promises. As of today, we have disbursed over N16.1 billion in gratuities to our workers. Today, I am approving another N2 billion for the payment of gratuities across the board for the month of April. We will continue to monitor and audit this payment to ensure it reaches the right people. Please keep us informed if you notice any irregularities.”

“We have approved and granted the refund of the outstanding 7.5% contributory pension scheme, paid three months’ worth of promotions, released 2023 promotions, granted approval for the conduct of service examinations, invested in affordable housing units for our workers in Ibiono Ibom Local Government, and authorized the ongoing construction of the 3rd Ring Road to connect our workers to Uyo.”

“We have approved your land allocations, so you can begin building at any time. We recently swore in permanent secretaries, and we will appoint more as some are soon to retire.”

Related News

“Of course, the 13 months’ salary is ongoing. We have approved the recruitment of health workers in the state for the Primary health centres,” he added.

On the issue of minimum wage for workers, he said, “We will wait on the federal government to provide more details and we will implement the new minimum wage for our workers.”

“The Bulk Purchase Agency is a short-term intervention. For a more sustainable solution, we must return to the farm, working with the Ministry of Agriculture. Therefore, I am declaring the first and last Friday of every month Farm Days in the state. It will not be a day for funerals. We will monitor to ensure everyone goes to the farm,” he said.

In response to an earlier appeal by labour, the governor presented two vehicles to the chairmen of NLC and TUC.

Earlier in his remarks, the State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Sunny James, appreciated Governor Umo Eno for fulfilling his campaign promises to Akwa Ibom workers, stressing that organized labour is never quick to praise governors but said that given the strides of Governor Eno in less than one year in office, he deserves a louder ovation.

He specifically appreciated the governor for the prompt payment of gratuities to retirees of the state, local government, and primary school teachers; approvals for the refund of 7.5% contributory pension from workers, and many other gestures which, according to him, are answers to the prayers of Akwa Ibom workers.

Similarly, his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Comrade Dominic Abang, specially appreciated the governor for always putting the people of the state first, in line with the theme of the celebration.

In their separate solidarity messages, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Elder Udeme Otong, State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot represented by Hon Justice Aniekan Akpan, Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien, Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning, Aniefiok Nkom, and the State Controller, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, congratulated the workers on their successful 2024 celebration and described the workers as pillars of social growth.

They commended Governor Umo Eno for prioritizing the welfare of Akwa Ibom workers as well as retired ones through the 13th month salary, palliatives, and regular release of funds for payment of arrears of gratuity; and pledged to always support the governor in his efforts to do more for Akwa Ibom workers through the ARISE Agenda.