In keeping with his promise to the protesting organized labour last week, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, has inaugurated an 18-man committee to oversee the distribution of palliatives to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal on the people in the state.
The Palliatives Committee has the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Enobong Uwah, as Chairman, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Frank Archibong as Secretary, Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Sunny James and fifteen other members drawn from Government, Organized Labour and Civil Society Organisations as members.
Inaugurating the Committee, Governor Eno outlined its terms of reference to include providing in details, the measures of how the palliative items would be distributed to positively affect the target population of the poor across the State; creating awareness on measures taken by the State Government; and ensuring success in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of palliative measures, while upholding integrity in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He disclosed the receipt of 3,000 bags of rice so far, from the federal government and tasked the Committee to ensure that the palliatives get to people who really need them, and to evaluate and recommend to the state government other measures, to add to the federal government’s palliatives.
This, he stressed, should be done with reference to economic realities and availability of funds in the State, within a time frame of two weeks.
“Apart from the recommendations, we have to know how you want us to make it trigger down so that you will also be part of the implementation not just for Civil Servants but for Akwa Ibomites generally, particularly to the most vulnerable, those who really need these things.
“I am going to make sure I do whatever it takes to ensure that we cushion the effects of all of these but it has to be within what the capacity of the State Government”, he stated.
The Governor thanked the organized labour for the cooperation enjoyed by his administration since assumption of office especially in ensuring peaceful conduct during the August 2 protest, describing the action as lawful and in line with the tenets of democracy and particularly commended the labour leaders for not allowing the process to be hijacked by mischief makers.
Restating his administration’s commitment to the welfare of workers in the state, the governor said: “We will continue to ensure that we energize our workforce because that is the engine room of government. We will handle every issue that has to do with gratuity and all of that.
“By the grace of God, there will hardly be any two months that we don’t do something about gratuity”, the Governor added.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents after the inauguration, the NLC Chairman, Comrade Sunny James, commended the Governor’s integrity in keeping to his promise of setting up the Committee even before the expiration of his promised ten days and gave the assurances of labour’s support, to ensure the palliatives get to the those deserving it in the state.
The Labour leader stated that beyond food for the poorest of the poor, the current cost of transportation has jeopardized the economic fortune of workers and therefore called on government at the federal and state levels to consider palliative measures to also cushion such difficulties.