The All Progressives Congress in Ondo State has expressed concerns over the trip of the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko, to the United Kingdom in the face of the unresolved strike by workers following five months of unpaid salaries.
Mr. Mimiko’s trip was at the invitation of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London, as a speaker in one of the sessions of its 2016 conference.
Mr. Mimiko travelled to London on Wednesday, June 15, and delivered a lecture on Thursday, June 16, at the Conference.
The governor spoke on the topic, “Healthcare for All: From Aspiration to Implementation” at a break-out session of the conference.
According to a letter of introduction for UK visas by Chatham House dated June 13, 2016, which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the institute committed to paying for the governor’s travel expenses.
“Please note that we will be covering the costs of Governor Mimiko’s travel expenses and accommodation on June 16 and June17, 2016,” the letter, which was signed by the Senior Event Project Manage, Laurel Louden, partly read.
But the letter did not state that the institute would cover the cost of those in Mr. Mimiko’s entourage, namely, Commissioner for Health, Dayo Adeyanju; Chief Press Secretary, Eni Akinsola and Media Aide to the governor, John Paul Akinduro.
The APC, in a statement on Sunday, condemned the governor’s trip, saying it was unwise due to the harsh economic situation and the fact that the strike had completely crippled the economic activities of the state.
“In spite of this serious issue confronting the state, Governor Olusegun Mimiko still had the audacity to travel out of the country to the United Kingdom without making any meaningful effort to end the strike action of the state workers,” the statement by APC’s Director of Publicity, Steve Otaloro, said.
“This is the height of callousness on the part of Governor Mimiko and it is totally unacceptable to the people who elected him to take care of their welfare.”
The party alleged that the governor had been globetrotting since he came to power in 2009 under the guise of seeking investors for the state.
“But this present trip to the UK which is of no economic benefit to the state is uncalled for at this time in the midst of serious crisis that has engulfed the state which requires serious attention of the governor that prides himself as running ‘A Caring Heart’ Government,” the statement said.
“It should also be noted that Dr. Olusegun Mimiko’s previous trips seem not to have yielded a single foreign investment to the state. Instead, his policies have killed businesses in the state through multiple taxation inflicted on existing businesses.
“The opulent lifestyle of the governor and his family at the Government House and the fact that he’s living large enough at the expense of the state must have beclouded him not to appreciate the pains and the hunger that permeate the entire citizenry in the state.
“But he should remember that this was not what he promised the people at his inaugural speech where he boasted ‘I Will Work For You’ in his now infamous 2009 speech.”
The party said the current hardship in Ondo State was self-inflicted, as it had warned the governor before now to desist from borrowing, as repayment would stiffen development but that he did not listen.
“We told him that ‘he who goes a-borrowing will one day go a-sorrowing,’ the party noted. “It is repayment of these various unwarranted loans collected by the PDP led-government of Ondo State that is now making life difficult for our people and the inability of government to meet payment of salaries of civil servants and pensioners emolument in the state with its attendance consequences on other sectors of the state economy that is largely driven by revenue from the state workers.”
It also argued that although there was revenue shortfall from the Federation Account, other states affected were still paying salaries.
The party dismissed the excuses by the government that it was waiting for reimbursement from the Federal fund on federal government projects and roads executed and the Paris Club fund, saying they were unattainable goals and therefore unacceptable.
“The APC is therefore strongly advising this administration to consider the overall interests of the people and the future of Ondo State by initiating continuous dialogue with the workers with a view to end the strike by paying them to pave way for their return to work,” it said.
“The pendulum of time is swinging against the PDP led-government and the general welfare of our people. The people are suffering in silence, and if Mimiko listens well, he will hear their groaning.”
Mr. Mimiko and Labour unions failed to reach any agreement to call off the strike despite interventions by traditional rulers.
The state government insists there is no money to pay workers, and said it wad hoping that another largesse from the federal government in form of a bailout could be a breather in the current crisis.
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