Unless the Federal Government directed the payment of 29 months salary arrears owed staff of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the aggrieved workers have said in Kaduna, on Wednesday, that they would disrupt the events of the forthcoming 50th Independence anniversary of the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna, the chairman of the NITEL branch of the Senior Staff Association of Communication, Transport and Corporations, Mr. Uzah Francis, said they had no option but to register their grievances by disrupting the much awaited anniversary since government had deliberately failed to consider their plight.
“The workers will converge on Abuja from all parts of the country to protest our current plight and disrupt Nigeria’s golden jubilee celebrations in order to get the attention of the Federal Government and all Nigerians,” he said.
The NITEL workers, however, said they were taking the action, because they were pushed to the wall and appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the matter to save them from further suffering and deprivation due to the non-payment of their salaries for over two years by the management of the company.
They said many of their members had in recent times lost their lives due to the non-payment of their salaries, while several others along with their family members had been forced to take up accommodation in NITEL offices after being ejected by their landlords for owing rent.
According to Comrade Francis,“we have concluded plans to disrupt this Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary because for 29 months now, we have not received our salaries and all efforts to make government pay us have not yielded the desired result. We, workers and ex-workers of NITEL, have agreed to disrupt it. Our people will move to Abuja and scuttle it. Nothing will stop us, except they pay us.
“In Kaduna zone alone, we have recorded 12 deaths arising from curable diseases; six of our members have become paralysed and one of our staff committed suicide as a result of frustration. It is better the government kills us themselves so that we can all die and that is why we are going to march to the venue of the jubilee celebrations and disrupt it so that they can kill us, since they don’t want to pay us for our labour.
“Our children are no longer going to school because of our inability to pay their school fees. Our colleagues who are staying in rented apartments are now staying in our offices with their families because they can’t pay house rent. All these are happening after we have put in our best in the service of our father land,” he said.