Drama as Akeredolu, labour leaders argue over Paris Club refund

Drama as Akeredolu, labour leaders argue over Paris Club refund
Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, and labour leaders were involved in an argument over the state’s Paris Club refund.
Paris Club refund is a partial settlement of long-standing claims by state governments, relating to over-deductions from their federation account allocation committee (FAAC) allocation for external debt service arising between 1995 and 2002.

The governor had invited the labour leaders to government house, Akure, the state capital, to deliberate on the money.

A source, who was at the meeting, told TheCable that after keeping the labour leaders waiting for hours, the governor demanded that they should apologise to him for a protest workers and pensioners embarked upon on Tuesday.

The protesters had demanded payment of their outstanding allowances.
The workers and pensioners blocked the entrance to the governor’s office, alleging that the Paris Club refund had been diverted.

Akeredolu, who described their action as an embarrassment to his government, reportedly said he would not go ahead with the meeting if the labour leaders did not apologise to him.

“The governor was angry over the protest embarked on during the week. He accused the labour leaders of embarrassing his government and told them to apologise,” the source told TheCable.

“An argument broke out over the governor’s demand and having failed to get the apology he demanded, the governor walked out in anger.

“The labour leaders insisted there nothing wrong with last Tuesday’s protest and that it was within the constitutional rights of those who carried it out.”

Speaking with journalists after the aborted meeting, Tayo Ogunleye, chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, and Soladoye Ekundayo, chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said Akeredolu’s decision to walk out on labour leader showed he plans to divert the Paris club refund for personal or political use.

The labour leaders said they were still consulting stakeholders on a plan to declare industrial dispute against the state government over the issue.

They accused Akeredolu’s government of refusing to disburse the Paris Club refund and failing to continue payment of the 2017 leave bonus.

Segun Ajiboye, chief press secretary to the governor told TheCable that Akeredolu did not walk out on the labour leaders but had to attend another important function.

“The meeting was called by the governor, so how would he have worked out from a meeting he called himself. The came, they spoke their minds,” he said.

“There was an MOU-signing ceremony that was supposed to hold before the meeting with them but was postponed because the governor had earlier scheduled this meeting with them.

“So, he told them ‘I have another meeting now but it was postponed because I needed to meet you, this meeting will continue maybe next week, let me go and attend to that meeting now’.”