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LABOUR UNIONS BEG ONI OVER WORKERS PROTEST ON LOANS

By Lere Olayinka

Leaders of workers unions, led by Deputy President of the Nigerian
Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Peter Adeyemi have appealed to Governor
Segun Oni of Ekiti State to temper justice with mercy on some workers
in the State, who took loans above the stipulated Civil Service
Financial Regulations.

The workers had protested on Tuesday on the premise that the State
Government had increased interests on the Car, Land and Housing Loans
they obtained to 15 percent.

However, after meeting with the Head of Service, Mr. Olufemi Adewumi,
the labour leaders, including the State Chairman of NLC, Comrade
Joseph Arogundade, Trade Union Congress (TUC) chairman, Comrade
Rapheal Olaiya and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) Chairman, Comrade
Omoyeni Oyewole among others met with Governor Oni in his office
between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30pm yesterday.

Speaking during the meeting, Comrade Adeyemi, who condemned the civil
servants financial misdemeanour, appealed to the governor to look
passionately into the matters of those who over-borrowed.
“We have had fruitful discussions with the Head of Service and we
condemned in its entirety the civil servants financial misdemeanour.
We also frown at the forgery of certificates and age by the workers
and we want to request that we be allowed to take part in the process
on the age and certificate forgery.

“It is also our request that you should look passionately into the
case of those who over-borrowed with a view to letting them continue
the loan repayment based on the terms and condition on which they
obtained the loans.

“Our request is predicated on the fact that we are not just doing
business with you, but we have had a good relationship with you. There
are records to show how sympathetic you are to workers and I know that
you are the only one, who can assist the workers at this time,”
Adeyemi said.

Responding, Governor Oni, who expressed appreciation to the labour
leaders for their concern and understanding, noted that he had already
handed off the matter to the civil servants themselves to handle.
Noting that he was not out to punish anyone, the governor said the
civil service rules would be applied strictly in addressing the
issues.

“I am not a civil servant. I don't know what the civil service rules
say but I can assure you that whatever that is provided in the rules
will be applied strictly. This is because we cannot continue to
circumvent the laws, which I sworn to uphold to satisfy some people
and dissatisfy others.

“Besides, I have come to terms with the fact that each time I tried to
introduce human elements like sympathy to issues, there are problems.
Also, when a decision cost conscience, infringement on laws, I want to
avoid taking such decision,” the governor said.

Speaking further, Governor Oni disclosed that those workers whose
loans are within the stipulated Civil Service Financial Regulations,
adding that the government would continue to protect them and make
sure that the terms and agreement under which they took the loans
would be adhered to.

He disclosed further that the government was in the process of
migrating the Housing Loan to the National Housing Fund (NHF), adding
that the NHF can even give longer tenor.
Earlier, the governor had met with political appointees and top
functionaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he
explained the steps being taken on the furore generated by the workers
loans.
He explained that the State Government was already subsidising the
loans interests with over N700 millions, adding that; “The problem is
not the fact that the government gave out loans to workers, but some
of the workers not adhering to rules.

“So, we have asked that the rules be applied in resolving the matter.
This is because the Public Service is guided by rules and those rules
are going to be applied strictly. Therefore, if they checked the rules
and the provision is that those who over-borrowed should borrow more,
so be it.