Worker’s Day: Benue Workers Protest Killings In The State
From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
Thousands of Benue workers and Associations affiliated to the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), as well as Civil Society Organizations, on Tuesday converged at Ibrahim Badamoshi Babangida Square(IBB), Makurdi, Benue state to marked this year’s Worker’s Day celebration.
The usual fanfare that goes with the annual event was missing as workers simply took their seats at the occasion which was held low key, while a coalition of civil society organizations took over the arena to protest the mindless killings in the state by Fulani herdsmen.
The CSOs were seen carrting placards with various inscriptions; “Benue Lives Matter”, “FG Stop killing Our People”, “The killing is Unacceptable”, Guma LGA has been Deserted”, “Buhari, Every Benue Youth Is A Yusuf”; “FG has Brought hunger to us”, among others.
The Chairman Central Planning Committee, Comrade Emmanuel Yiyongo, had announced that NLC decided to suspend traditional March pass, display by art council and cutting of cake due to the prevailing circumstances people and workers in the state have found themselves in.
He said the union rather decided to dedicate this year event to pray and cry unto God to intervene in Benue situation and end the killings.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, in his message commended Benue workers for their resilient in the service to the state despite the hardship and other noticeable challenges.
Governor Ortom acknowledged the hard condition of the Benue workers which he said was compounded by the prevailing economic situation being experienced at all levels of government.
“Despite our numerous challenges and our inability to pay salary, Benue workers have continued to demonstrate uncommon love for this government. Times are harsh but you have remained resolute and supportive. We appreciate this.”
Ortom who pledged improved welfare for Benue workers as well as payment of monthly salaries said he will continue to speak out until justice is done to the Benue people.
Ortom also praised the civil society organizations for the part they played to ensure the law on Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment was passed, saying the law is a plus to all Benue people having led the way to liberate Nigeria and Nigerians from bondage.
He also expressed sadness over the persistent killings by herdsmen and invasion of Naka town by Soldiers who burnt down several houses and destroy so many properties, stating that as long as justice, equity and fairness are not returned to his people, he will continue to talk.
He however disclosed that Federal government have deployed over five thousand security personnel to the state to provide support while the chief of army staff has set up a high power military committee to look into the NAKA Military invasion.
He assured that his government will not betray the trust of the workers and promised to liaise with relevant stakeholders and get back to the civil society who requested for his approval to carry out mass protest over the killings in the state.
Earlier, the state chairman Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), Benue State chapter, Comrade Godwin Anya had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently deal decisively with the issues of herdsmen attacks on the people of the state and elsewhere in the country.
Anya said this year’s celebration has been turned into mourning for people of the state over the spate of killings of innocent citizens by herdsmen militias.
He further expressed the workers’ support for Governor Ortom in the implementation of the Anti Open Grazing Law which they consider as a global best practice and panacea to farmers and herdsmen crisis.
According to him, heavy taxation of PAYE, Job creation, Resumption of Payment of Annual Leave Grant, Implementation of 65 years retirement age for the non-academic staff of the State owned tertiary institutions in Benue State and implementation 0f 121/2 % peculiar allowance to non-teaching staff in Post Primary Schools remain our challenges”.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Pastor Dave Ogbole said the killing is no longer acceptable. “We stand with the Governor in the implementation of the Anti open grazing law, there is no going back because the law was made to protect Benue people.
“Until FG reverse the Sharia law made by Zamfara state government, FG must come out to support this one made by our state Assembly. Law is made to address mischief, is made to protect people. Our law must be obeyed, we will not bend our law”, he insists.
The Christian leaders were also present and offered prayers for God’s intervention in Benue