2024 Int’l Workers’s Day: Full Speech of Governor Bassey Edet Otu of Cross River state

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I count it all joy and expression of goodwill and solidarity with the workers of Cross River State in the commemoration of the 2024 International Labour Day. I am therefore glad to be in your midst today the 1st of May, 2024 to share every moment with you.

While Workers’ Day is seen by many as a–one-day off celebration in acknowledgement of workers’ sacrifice and aspiration in the workplace, for us in Cross River State, we go beyond that. It is rather a continuous reminder of an enduring synergy between the government and its workforce in order to create wealth and improve livelihood. It is therefore a day to envision a better working condition for workers through mutual negotiation and understanding. The government considers its workforce as the driver of lofty projects and programmes for the common good of the people. Workers in the State are always held in high esteem to achieve good results.

2. Though the history of the Workers’ Day is steeped in suffering, deprivation, unhealthy working condition, poor remuneration etc., the present administration celebrates its workers by being proactive in attending to the issues that affect the workforce; which invariably motivate workers towards increased productivity. The following milestones in relation to workers’ welfare have been achieved so far.

(i) Prompt Payment of Salary and Pension: Since my assumption of office, the payment of monthly salary and pension to workers and pensioners has remained a first line charge in every months’ expenditure. Having considered the huge effort workers put in the implementation of government policies and programmes; and taking cognizance of the diligent service the retirees had rendered to the State and these senior citizens are now faced with some health challenges, mobility issues, hunger etc., I am morally inclined to give them this priority attention.

So, as at today 1st May, 2024 the April 2024 salary and pension have been duly paid to every worker and pensioner in the State. The State Government is presently on the verge of concluding necessary arrangements for the staggered payment of outstanding gratuity to its retired workers. I therefore sue for a little patience from the pensioners in this regard.

(ii) Workers’ Promotion and its Implementation: My administration is that with a human face; hence sensitive to the hue and cry of the people. Unfortunately, I met an apparent disillusioned and less motivated workforce which was a function in part, of staff stagnation on the same salary grade level for years. Alarmed by this awful situation, I immediately directed the State Civil Service Commission to conduct promotion interview in order to upgrade all deserving workers in the State up to 2023. I believe the exercise has brought some succor to the suffering workforce and serves as a catalyst for hardwork.

I have equally directed relevant government agencies to liaise with the office of the State Accountant-General to implement all genuine promotions for the State and Local Government Workers with effect from May 2024. The slight delay in the implementation of these promotions was informed by the need to carry out a thorough clean-up of the State Payroll, of duplication and to weed out ghost workers (if any). So, after the harmonization of the payroll, every genuine promotion shall be implemented accordingly. Besides, I have further directed that the annual incremental step the State and Local Government Workers have not enjoyed for more than a decade now, should be implemented with immediate effect.

(iii) Employment into the State Civil Service: The State Government is conscious of the need to employ our teeming qualified youths into the service to bridge the manpower gap created by the retirement of some workers from the State Civil Service. I have therefore directed the office of the Head of Service to collaborate with the Ministry of Establishment, Training and Pensions to expedite action in determining the actual manpower gap to enable the State government commence the employment of candidates from Grade Levels 03 – 09 into the Civil Service.

(iv) Implementation of the New National Minimum Wage: The theme for this year’s Workers’ Day is the “People First” and this interestingly coincides with my administration’s mantra. Accordingly, whatever action aimed at ameliorating the suffering of the workers is readily embraced by me. One of such measures is the payment of a living wage to the workforce. May I therefore state categorically that, the government of Cross River State under my leadership, is willing and ready to put smile on the faces of its workers and in line with the season of sweetness which characterizes my administration. However, owing to the peculiarity of our State in regard to its lean finances occasioned by low Statutory Federal Allocation and aggravated by the unfavorable State GDP to Debt servicing ratio, the new wage implementation shall be in line with the realities of the time rather than sentiments. On this note, I wish to announce that the least paid worker in the Cross River State Civil Service will henceforth earn the sum of N40,000.00 (Forty Thousand Naira) only; as a living wage. Modalities for immediate implementation are being worked out.

Moreover, in order to enhance the income of an average farmer and others within the informal sector, I also wish to announce that henceforth the activities of merchants or middle men making huge profits from the sweat of the producers are abolished. In order to bridge this gap and afford the farmers the opportunity to sell their produce at competitive market rate, the State Produce Marketing Board will soon be constituted to control prices.

(v) Improved Work Environment: It is an unarguable fact that a conducive work environment easily impacts positively on the workers’ output. In furtherance of this proposition, the renovation of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) is ongoing at the first instance; while the provision of office furniture and equipment will be implemented in the second phase. I am equally aware of the lack of electricity power supply in many MDAs. Relevant government agencies have been directed to be on top of the issue.

3. Aside the foregoing milestones of the present administration within one year in office, I am aware of other demands by the Organized Labour which are yet to be addressed. But with continuous robust dialogue between the government and the Unions, coupled with the determination of the present administration to put the welfare of its workforce on the front burner, the outstanding issues will be resolved amicably soon. This optimism is predicated on the government – labour partnership of progressives towards the attainment of a common goal – which is development.

4. Call for Higher Productivity: I wouldn’t be fair and just to the workers of Cross River State if I conclude this address without making mention of their shortcomings; principal among these is low productivity which is adjudged to be barely 5%. It therefore amounts to wasting one’s sweetness in the desert if the government should yield to almost all the demands of workers, yet the productivity is not commensurable.

I therefore charge every worker in the employ of Cross River State to reciprocate the kind gestures of the present administration by doubling his effort in assigned duties. If this is not adhered to, this administration may resort to ways of evaluating workers benefits vis-a-vis their output.

I wish you all a joyous Workers’ Day Celebration.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Long live the Government of Cross River State!

Long live the Organized Labour!

Long live Cross River State Workers!

I thank you all!


Sen. (Prince) Bassey E. Otu

Executive Governor