[compass] AGGRIEVED workers of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications (Mtel), yesterday requested that President Goodluck Jonathan should tell Nigerians during his independence speech when their 29 months salary arrears would be paid.
The workers yesterday in Abuja carried placards with inscriptions such as “Jonathan, tell Nigerians when you will pay us our money”, “We are dying, save us”, “We want to join the golden jubilee celebration but pay us first”, and others.
They said they could no longer trust the promises made by ministers, noting that the only alternative left for them was for the President to address the Nitel/Mtel matter during his speech on October 1.
One of the protesting workers, Mr. Omorege Esosa, told the Nigerian Compass that for about 29 months, they were not paid salaries, “we have been denied our rights, and we all own this country, there is no way some group of persons will be having problems, we cannot feed our families and the nation is celebrating.
“We have just met with the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Chukwuemeka Wogu, bringing our grievances to the notice of the Federal Government that we will not leave Abuja without our monies paid.
“The minister assured us that our issue is on the table of President Jonathan but we want the president to make an independence statement concerning the Nitel/Mtel issue, to tell Nigerians the day the government will pay us before we can leave Abuja because the pains are just too much for us to bear, we are tired of listening to ministers.
“He told us too that the paper is on the President table for final approval, but such promises have been on over and over again and so we can not be deceived any longer, we want to join in the celebration of the golden jubilee but we don’t have money. We want to see the realities of the promises that is why we are doing a peaceful demonstration to get the attention of the whole world.
We want the world to know that some of us are suffering.”
Another worker, John Isaiah, said the government has been lying to the workers with the issue would be resolved and that they would take necessary action soonest.
According to him, “if Jonathan allows the Nitel/Mtel workers to die, who will he lead tomorrow? He should ensure he tells us and Nigerians when we will finally get our money”.
Efforts to get the Minister of Labour and Productivity proved abortive at the time of filing the report.
NITEL workers protest, demand Jonathan's commitment on salary arrears