(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – One of the grounds upon which the organized labour in Rivers state are currently threatening indefinite strike against the Rivers State Government was the retention of Barr. Rufus Godwins, the Head of Service, who according to them had retired last year. They want him removed as head of service.
Their other demands included implementation of the minimum wage in a satisfactory manner, promotion of staff as and when due, and implementation of promotions, among prayers.
There is no contention that the organized labour have right to threaten indefinite strike if their negotiation with government fails. However, we disagree that the removal of Barr. Rufus Godwins as head of service should be one of the reasons for their industrial action.
Every honest person in Rivers State knows that the retention of civil servants even after their retirement is not new. It did not start with Rufus Godwins, and predated the Governor Ezenwo Wike administration. However, this appears to be the first time, in our opinion, that the organized labour is making an issue out of it.
Ironically, the chairperson of Nigerian Labour Congress in Rivers State, Comrade Beatrice Itubo, who retired from the Rivers State civil service a few years ago, contested for and won a contentious election for a second term. The retired but not tired Mrs. Itubo defied the protests of other stakeholders who had argued that she had retired and no longer has business speaking on behalf of those who are still in service.
Well, the opposition had their say but Mrs. Beatrice Itubo had her way. Today, the retired Beatrice Itubo is sitting with government to negotiate on issues bordering on the welfare of those who are still in service.
Although the Rivers state government is aware that Mrs. Beatrice Itubo has retired it did not bother to make it an issue out of it, especially since it is the choice of the workers in Rivers State to retain her as their leader even after she has retired from service.
If what some people consider irregular has been ignored by the government because that was the choice of the workers, the corollary should also be seen for what it is: that the River state government finds Barr. Rufuis Godwins still very useful, and is retaining him to render more service to the state and also help mentor younger ones in the service.
There is no ambiguity in this decision, the reason why it should be respected because, by so doing, neither the state government nor Barr. Gidwins did any wrong to warrant the organized labour to demand for the removal of Rufus Godwins as head of service.
In our considered opinion, this demand by the organized labour falls flat before equity. This is because, whereas the organized labour are free to swing their hands in any direction, according to our elders, they are forbidden from extending it to the point of hurting another person’s eyes.
The organized labour has always been respected in the state and nationally, and it is important that they continue to conduct their affairs in such a manner that would enhance their reputation
instead of creating the impression that they are being used by some persons who cannot wait for their own time, to assume the position of head of service in Rivers state.
Iheanyi Ezinwo is based in Port Harcourt. He is publisher at Notable Outcome (08068756996).