Dear Sahara Reporters Team: I have no doubt that I have chosen the right medium to lay bare the travails and plight of a group of people that every one in Ogun State had ignored. I am neither a trouble maker nor an attention seeker. All I passionately desire is for justice to be done and for smile to return to my face and that of my co-travelers.
I am writing to intimate you about the plight of the 2000 sacked workers in Ogun State. I am confident that you will not be indifferent with our plight, our pain, as we’ve been turned to the victims of the hatred and animosity between the immediate past government and the present government in the state.
We were legitimately recruited in May by the last administration following the due process. Employment forms were sold, interview, both written ad oral were conducted and about 2000 of us were appointed. I was to a community far away from my Local Government and that was the case with most of us. We were given appointment letters, we paid acceptance fee and paid also for other sundry things. We ran up and down to complete our documentation and the other necessary things.
The only thing anyone could argue about was the timing of our appointment but I doubt if anyone who is truly unemployed or under employed will forsake the offer. Besides, since the incumbent governor had consistently, during his campaign promised to employ 10 000 youths in his first 100 days in office, one would have thought he would just employ 8000 more to make up the number. Mention must also be made of the fact that Chief Osoba who was Daniel predecessor and now the leader of ACN in the state did the same thing while leaving office in 2003 and Daniel never laid them off. Please get me right, I am not Daniel’s apologist, in fact I hate him with passion for the pain he inflicted on me with the astronomical increase in the school; fees of tertiary institutions in the state . I paid through my nose then and I am yet to recover fully from the debt incurred.
The usual practice in the state is that newly recruits will be paid three months after their appointment, so we endured and hoped that we will be paid by the end of July. Once, we received a message asking us to re-apply. We rushed to Abeokuta and did the re-application and were asked to return to our duty posts. many of us had incurred debt for transportation and other things. Some of us had paid for house rent in our various new work places. Then the unthinkable happened on the 13th of July when the State govt. announced through the media that we’ve been dis-engaged from service with the promise that we will be taken care of along with the new 10000 jobs. I had thought the Labour Union in the state will take up he matter but after the initial gra-gra, we ended up being traded for minimum wage thereby thwarting our hope.
Even if Gov. Amosun thought it wise to sack us, the exercise was done in the most illegal manner contrary to Labour laws and in clear contravention of the content of the appointment letters given to us and also at variance with the rule of law being preached by the administration in the state. This is the state government that has revoked the handing over of school to the missionaries because a MoU, in their wisdom, can never supersede a decree. The same state government that is bent on implementing the Federal Personal Income Tax Law to the letter. One would have assumed that this same state government should be able to follow simple rule that guides the disengagement of workers that were statutory appointed. It was clearly wrong for the government to disengage us over the media without disengagement letters. Were we employed over the media? Secondly, the rule, like it is contained in the paragraph 5 of our appointment letters states that ‘your appointment may, at any time, be terminated by the commission by giving you one month’s notice in writing or by paying you a month’s salary in lieu of notice.’ We were not given even a day notice and were not paid a kobo in lieu of notice. More painfully is the fact that we were not also paid a penny for our three months in service. I thought the era of impunity had gone with Daniel. I have met with a few others of those equally affected and they all have sorry stories to tell. Some of us left our former work place where we felt they were being enslaved to take up the appointment. Majority of us are bread winners who have dependents. Almost all of us had relocated to where we were posted to and had paid house rents. All of us had started rejoicing hoping that we have finally crossed the poverty line only for the Governor to dash our hope! This is the same man we voted for out of sheer compassion because we thought he has been unduly persecuted by the PDP. If he has decided to be uncompassionate with our plight by sending us out of job thereby increasing the unemployment level, he should at least be told to do the needful by paying us what is due to us. For Heaven sake we worked for close to three months and should not have been unceremoniously laid off without pay.
I this era where kissing-up and sycophancy reign supreme, most unfortunately among journalist, nobody seemed to be interested in our plight, nobody seemed bold enough to point it out to the Governor that he had erred. . It appeared everyone is blinded by the hatred for Daniel that no one is bothered if the baby is thrown away with the bath water. This is the reason why I have decide to write to you to please be the passionate advocate for those who had no voice . I will be more than happy if you could add your voice and help us in our quest to find justice.
Before you begin to think about the 10 000 jobs and the promise of the state government to re-engage those that were disengaged, I strongly believe that we should not have been unceremoniously disengaged, humiliated and subjected to the psychological and emotional pain of being sacked in the first instance. Aside this, one can now conveniently begin to query the sincerity of the state government about the much politicized 10 000 jobs which is now heading to be a fluke, a deceit after all. First I want to point it out that it will be a dream for anyone to think this present government will employ anybody this year going by the go-slow and delay tactic it has decided to display. I want to also let you know that I’ve made personal effort to contact some of those affected only a few of them found their names on the 5000 names released so far. I’ve talked to about 20 people out of those employed by the TSC and only 2 of them with ‘long legs’ and strong ACN connections saw their names. You might begin to wonder what happened to the promise to take care of the disengaged workers first. Even if the sate government will still reengage them, can’t the government pay them what is due to them first to lessen their pain?
My point after all is that the state government should pay us for the nearly 3 months we have worked, pay us the statutory one month salary in lieu of notice, then compensate us for sacking us illegally while making necessary arrangement for our re-engagement however belated. This will go along way in lessening our pain and at the end bring succor to us.
Indifference, they say, is more damaging than hate.
God bless you as you reflect on this.
God Bless Ogun State.
God Bless Nigeria.
For and on behalf of Ogun 2000 sacked workers