By Edifon ABASI-OBOT
Labour leaders in Akwa Ibom State have lauded the initiative of the pre-workers’ day symposium by the State Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning, as workers relished the insightful lecture, discussion and interaction session of the event.
The indication was contained in separate remarks by Chairpersons of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunny James, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Akamba Awa and of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Bassey Effiong, at the commemorative symposium, to mark the 2019 Workers’ Day celebration in Akwa Ibom, held at the Mandela Banquet Hall of Watbridge Hotels and Suites in Uyo, on the May Day eve.
The TUC Chairman said Labour has fared much better under Governor Udom Emmanuel than any other administration and lauded the Governor consistency in paying workers’ entitlements promptly.
Beyond the notion that it is the duty of government to pay salaries, Awa said, it takes the will of the leader of a government for workers’ entitlement to be considered a priority, expressing hope that the Governor will even do better for Akwa Ibom workers in the minimum new minimum wage.
Comrade Akamba Awa thanked the Commissioner in the Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson for initiative of the symposium, describing the gathering of Labour leaders of such magnitude for the purpose of educating their minds as historic and very commendable.
Awa said a government that pays its workers promptly and chooses to deviate from the hitherto held norm that “if you educate the workers they will know too much and then will ask questions”, and rather choose to educate its workers without fear of being challenged, deserves support and encouragement from Labour so as to do more.
The newly elected NLC Chairman in Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Sunny James said the response and interest shown by workers through the various sessions of the symposium indicated that Labour has been eagerly wishing for such opportunity to learn.
Comrade James commended His Excellency the Governor and the Honourable Commissioner, Ekong Samspon, for seeing the need to put together the lofty event, describing it as a great start for the new dispensation of Labour. He however urged that the yearly summit for Labour leaders be reinstituted in the State.
Comrade Bassey Effiong of the ULC described the symposium as very educating and thought provoking. He thanked the government for considering the development of the minds of workers as important.
The Commissioner for Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning, Barr. Ekong Sampson, in his Keynote address, said the Mr. Udom Emmanuel-led government was already keeping to the social justice aspect of Labour engagements, by readily putting in place a conducive working environment for workers through prompt payments of salaries, on-the-job motivation and round the clock upgrading of workers for more productivity, as well as opening up the State via industrialization and ensuring food sufficiency.
Ekong Sampson commended Labour for being a dependable ally to the government and urged workers in Akwa Ibom State to take advantage of the labour-friendly disposition of Governor Udom Emmanuel, to build a seamless relationship that will sustain Akwa Ibom as a leading economic hub in Nigeria. Sampson maintained that the viability of any economy depends largely on the efficiency of its workforce.
The Chairman House Committee on Labour, Hon. Asuquo Archibong, in his goodwill message, described the symposium as a laudable innovation. He said it was apt to engage workers in such intellectual exercise, especially for the purpose of the understanding the Labour union is not just a platform for agitation.
Rounding –off the discussion session, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said the gap between where a society was yesterday, where it is today and where it will be in the future, is basically the amount and quality of work that has been put into it.
Dr. Ekuwem described workers as a very important component of the society and that learning is a means of adapting to the evolving society, hence it will be dangerous for any worker to miss such opportunities to learn, stating that “the fate of the dinosaur (extinction) awaits those who fail to adapt” He commended the Ministry and Labour for the vision and collaboration to initiate the event, describing the quality of resources persons and the insight they offered as spellbinding.
Lead Speaker at the Event, Prof. P. A. Essoh of the University of Uyo, lectured on the theme of the symposium, “The Akwa Ibom Worker in the Emerging Age: Harnessing Value and Opportunity. Other resource persons at the symposium who were discussants of various included: Dr. Aniekan Brown, Dr. (Mrs.) Happiness Oduk, Dr. Gabriel Ukpeh, Dr. Francis Etim, and Dr. (Mrs.) Dorothy Umoatan.
Subtopics dissected included: Labour and Social Justice, Workplace Values, Utilizing Emerging Economic Opportunities in Akwa Ibom State and Dignity in Labour.