By Emenike Ubani
Workers disengaged by Abia State government on Tuesday went on a protest march at Aba.
The workers bore placards which read :Ohaneze , where is Igbo unity?25 disengaged workers have died! Abia state government should reinstate us.They converged at the premises of Aba high court where their case was to be heard, and marched through Asa road to the Christ the King Catholic Church(CKC), Aba, where they were addressed by their leaders and representatives of some civil society organizations.
It was also gathered that the matter was also filed at the Industrial Court, Enugu, which is said to have done the first hearing.
“The High Court 3 is supposed to sit today, but there is no Judge to hear the case. This is why we have decided to march through the town to make our predicament known to Abians. We have been out idle since we were retrenched on October 1, 2011.Our children are not in school. As I speak with you now , 25 persons among us have died out of frustration. The government should come to our aid,” one of the disengaged workers, who gave her name as Veronica lamented.
Another disengaged worker, Mrs. Scholastica Nwankwo said she lost her husband to a ghastly auto- accident in 2007, and she was disengaged in 2011.
She added admist sobs “Since the implementation of this policy, life has not been the same with me and my three children.We have been forced to relocate from the flat we were occupying, to a one room apartment due to my poor financial sate caused by the unfortunate situation.
According to her “I can no longer afford to feed, cloth and pay the school fees of her children and other daily expenses because of my current unemployed status.” As I am talk to you, I am troubled because I’m thinking of what to do to inorder to earn a living and survive the harsh times with my children. I am confused because I do nt know what to do to send them back to school”.
One of the civil society organizations fighting for the reinstatement of the disengaged workers, The Eastern Progressive Movement (EPM),described the action of the Abia State government as discriminatory ,obnoxious and unconstitutional.
EPM’s Vice President, Mrs. Amaka Nwosu who spoke to journalists in Aba said the Abia state government should rescind the decision and reinstate the workers.
She opined thus “the government’s action is unconstitutional and against natural justice. It
is against certain international conventions which Nigeria is a signatory to.These people have not been paid since they were relieved of their jobs in since October 1, 2011.
Furthermore“A section of the Nigerian Constitution states that there should be no discrimination on the basis of religion, sex or ethnicity. So, the policy is discriminatory and should be rescinded. It is an act against the Igbo people by an Igbo man”.
According to Nwosu “Food was taken out from their mouth abruptly. Some of them were about to retire and they were disengaged just like that; no salary, no form of gratuity, severance pay or compensation. They were just disengaged in a manner reminiscent of the dark days of the military era ”.
She also disclosed said that her organization has also written to the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Mr. Peter Obi, and copied his colleagues to wade into the issue but nothing positive has been heard from them.
Ubani also writes for The Eagle NewspaperNo tags for this post.