By NBF News

Enugu State Government has described comments credited to Osita Okechukwu, state governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 elections on the labour crisis in Enugu as typically intemperate and ill informed.

Okechukwu, while speaking as the publicity secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), was reported to have accused the government of refusing to implement the N18,000 minimum wage, even as he endorsed the strike action embarked upon by the workers. But in a statement signed by Chukwudi Achife, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Sullivan Chime denounced Okechukwu's comments as not only lacking in facts and propriety of logic, but was 'couched in a language that clearly exposed his profound personal prejudices.'

According to the statement, 'the government made it clear from the onset that, it was committed to the payment of the minimum wage as prescribed by the law. Government followed suit by fully complying and had, before the workers called their strike, completed arrangement for the payment of N18,500 as the minimum wage by the end of this month, while the arrears would be paid in October.'

He noted that a circular to that effect had been issued, and necessary paperwork was being carried out before the workers embarked on the strike. He stressed that the industrial action, contrary to Okechukwu's claims, did not arise over the alleged refusal of government to implement the new wage, but from a dispute as to the amount that would be added as enhancements to those of them already earning above the minimum wage.

'The position of government has never been that it would not pay the minimum wage, but that the resources at its disposal cannot support the salary chart proposed by labour,' he said. He described as unfortunate, the deliberate falsehood being dished out by Okechukwu, all in a futile bid to paint the government in bad light adding 'unfortunately, he has failed in his apparent plot to encourage workers to continue the strike action.'

Achife further stressed that the 'government remains committed to cordial working relationship with labour in the state as it implements the payment of the minimum wage.'