Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Tourism and Values Orientation, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, has denied the allegation by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state that the sack of 2000 workers employed by the former state governor, Ayo Fayose, was pure political vendetta. He spoke on why Governor Kayode Fayemi took the decision.
The state government recently announced the sacking of 2000 workers. But the PDP has condemned the action, saying your government is on a political vendetta. What is your take?
The fact remains that the so called employment was not done in good faith. We have a government who has not been able to pay salaries for eight months claiming that it wants to recruit 2000 workers into the work force, how logical is that? It is a simple case of sabotage. It is clear to all and everyone who wants to be fair in their judgement that it is a clear case of booby trapping the incoming government and this government as reported by the media had warned the Ekiti people against been deceived into accepting such offer from the past government. It was shoddily done and the whole process was a mess.
But some of the workers claimed that the process that brought them into the service followed due process. Is there no possibility of the government pardoning them especially because some are already seeing Fayemi’s action as a political vendetta against Fayose?
We are talking about fair play here. It is all of us who want to run a 100 race and some people have already stood at the 30 metre line, is that fair? So what we are trying to do is to give everyone a level playing field. If they know that they actually earn the job on merit, let them be part of the coming recruitment drive. It is open to everybody.
Talking about fairness, since many of them have spent hugely and exerted physical energies to do the work at their various posts across the state, shouldn’t the government consider giving them some palliatives?
Let me give an example, you are admitted into the university and at the third year, the school discovered that there were irregularity in your admission, should they say that you should start with 100 level? What we are saying is that you cannot build a legal structure on an illegal foundation. This is why we are starting the whole process anew, going back to drawing board and welcoming everyone to be part of this. We want everybody to be given a fair chance. If you are sure that you have done well and have been employed, why should you be afraid of passing through that process again? What we want is fair play.
What process should the previous government have passed through before absorbing the 2000 workers which would have authenticated the employment?
The government would advertise vacancies in some dailies so that everyone would have the opportunity to know about the vacancies. And specific positions will also be advertised. It is not just a matter of going to the radio to announce vacancies. On this matter causing hullabaloo, there were no specific positions advertised. I have seen copies of the forms, have you seen them? There were no such specifics. The whole process was not well planed or structured. For instance, the vacancy form for teaching service has no such position like vacancies for specific teaching position such as English teacher, or Government teacher.
This was why our incoming government then warned Ekiti people that they should not allow themselves to be involved in such shoddy mess. Our people should have taken note and heeded the warnings of our government then. I can tell you Dr. Kayode Fayemi does love Ekiti people so dearly so he is not doing this as a political vendetta. We are now saying there won’t be penalty for anyone but we will welcome all on board for a new employment drive. Every single Ekiti man and woman would have opportunity to participate and benefit.
Ekiti former labour union leaders are accusing your government of intimidation. Is that true?
It has been going around that some of those labour leaders in the past were bribed with cash and land. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of the matter and I cannot say anything on it. But I can tell you that we have a happy labour, since this government has been on ground we have been paying salaries as at when due and even paid part of the ones we inherited from past government. We have no reason to intimidate labour. This government has even promised to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage, even though richer states are having issues with that. So you can see we don’t have any issue with labour in this state.
Talking about employment opportunities, what effort is the state government making to ensure that many Ekiti people enjoy these benefits?
This is the dawn of a new glorious era. As we speak, the Head of Service is compiling different vacancies in the state civil and public services which will run into thousands of jobs for our people at all levels and we will throw all these open to all our people who are qualified. You spoke about three army schools coming and four secondary schools by the government. This will give thousands of jobs to our people at all levels as accountants, administrators, gatemen and cleaners and clerks among others. Already, the school feeding programme has given employment to almost 2000 people and you know the impact of that. The Gozzy water project that this government has revived will create jobs for 300 youths in the state and you know the ripple effect of many other jobs that the supply and distribution of the water would give.