New Dawn After The Gloom Of Strike

Now that the industrial action embarked upon by the workforce of Osun State, which lasted up to five weeks is over, due to the decision by labour to get it suspended; NIYI OLASINDE devotes this series of OSUN DEFENDER Magazine edition to take a critical look at events of the strike and matters arising. It is our effort to commend both sides – Government and the workforce – for their love and patriotism which saw to it that a truce was eventually reached.

FOLLOWING a three-day national warning industrial action culled out by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in late July to make various state governments see reason with the nation’s workforce on why they should implement to the letter the N18, 000 minimum wage enacted by the Federal Government; the members of the umbrella body of the workers in Osun State had since begun a strike action. This was in spite of several meetings of negotiation held between representatives in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state and the State Government. In spite of continuous intervention from other stakeholders, involving student groups, professional groups, artisans, royal fathers, religious clerics, legislators and politicians, labour had for five weeks on end remained adamant on why it should bury the hatchet and get back to work by reaching a lasting agreement with the State Government on the wage issue. Gladly, calm came penultimate Friday, September 8, 2011 when labour reached a temporary truce with the State Government and suspended the strike for the peace and progress of the state.

It would be recalled that the N18, 000 minimum wage issue has been a bone of contention in many states of the federation since the inauguration of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration for its genuine four-year tenure on May 29 2011. Prior to the April 2011 General Elections, the Jonathan administration, which was then an offshoot of the administration of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua had announced an increase in the minimum wage rate for civil/public servants in the nation to N18,000 monthly. Since that announcement, the policy had come under severe scrutiny and criticisms from analysts and public affair commentators. While some viewed the new wage rate as vague and unrealistic, many more visualized it as a political gimmick wielded by Jonathan to trick masses of Nigerians into getting him to office for his real and authentic tenure in office.

Upon his assumption of office, the fears and apprehension of Nigerians over the new wage rate have all along been confirmed correct and necessary. While the new minimum wage have been causing ripples and raising dust across the country, the initial attempt by the Jonathan administration to buy time and get the wage rate reversed and rescinded affirmed the widespread apprehension that trailed its initial declaration as necessary, reasonable and rightly-placed. However, the doggedness and resilience of labour over the issue have carried the day. The new minimum wage structure have been enacted and, today, workers at the federal level should be prepared to (if not in actual terms) enjoy the package in its comprehensive form.

But the package and its implementation especially its full implementation especially its full implementation to all cadres of civil/public servants across board are issues causing ripples and discord across states of the federation. While many states complain of low monthly statutory allocation from the Federation Accounts; others have several other peculiar exigencies to grapple with. Among others, such peculiarities include low Internally-Generated Revenues (IGRs), large number of employees (Government-paid workers), poor industrial drive which has stagnated and stigmatized the states as civil-service states and others. As if to compound the problem, many states of the federation complain of low monthly statutory allocation from the Federation Accounts.

Generally, the new wage structure is considered unrealistic and infeasible for most states of the federation. The structure is considered (and reasonably too) realistic for Lagos State and the oil-rich states, to which oil derivation funds accrue from the Federation Accounts. Such oil-rich states include Ondo, Edo, Delta, River, Bayelsa and Akwa-Ibom. For Lagos, all of us know full well that part from being the erstwhile administrative capital of Nigeria, it remains the nerve wire of our commercial/industrial life. So, the Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) drive of Lagos State generates more than triple of what many other states could garner through all their revenue sources. A proof to this claim is how that cosmopolitan state survived the sledge-hammer inflicted by the Obasanjo administration when Bola Tinubu administration attempted creation of logical governments in the early 2000s. Since the creation of that third-tier government formation was considered the statutory responsibility of the government at the centre, Lagos State found itself at the receiving end of sanctions – central to which was withholding of its statutory allocation for several months.

In spite of that stringent sanction, Lagos State survived. It is not in doubt that today, the state has survived in advance several series of wage increment that are to come; courtesy of her buoyant revenue drive. This is not to talk of the changing face brought about by the successive administrations of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Barrister Babatunde Raji Fasola. The duo has transformed Lagos into a model cash reservoir for Nigeria. For the oil-rich states mentioned above, the coping experience is not the same in the face of the ongoing labour-wage-rate crisis. In variance with the N18,000 minimum wage adopted by the Federal Government, each of the states adopted various amounts found payable by it, based on its peculiar income-expenditure profile.

For instance, Ondo State which is a beneficiary of the petroleum derivation fund also had its own share of the spate of ongoing labour crisis rocking the boat of the country. At the end of it all, Ondo State’s final agreement with its workforce harps on N14, 000 as minimum wage; though bouts of contention still linger over the issue in the state. We can go on and on, but the bottom line is that there are variations in the amount agreed upon as minimum wages for workers across the states of the federation; and in most cases, the agreements are tentative based on several crucial issues. Also, there exists wide variations in agreed terms and timings for the payment of the new minimum salary scale across the country.

In similar vein, Osun State of Nigeria has its own share in the ongoing labour crisis ravaging various states of the federation. Since the ending of July 2011, workers in Osun State have laid down tools in agitation against the State Government over its apparent failure to implement the new minimum wage rate. In real terms, the State Government was not in any way insistent on non-implementation of the wage rate. The standpoint of the State wage rate. The standpoint of the State Government, which labour finds either incredible or bitter to believe is that the revenue profile of the state is palpably low to commence, implement and sustain the new rate into to.

Findings revealed to OSUN DEFENDER Magazine that dialogues held between the Osun State Government and the state’s wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have for a long time ended in stalemate and deadlock. The details of what went wrong between the two parties are no longer news to the populace of the state, especially the elites. But the peculiar feature of the just-concluded industrial action is its prolonged nature. In spite of the fact that negotiations over the new wage rate had extended to tripartite and beyond, workers remained adamant to resume duties.

This edition of OSUN DEFENDER Magazine shall explore aspects touching on trade unions, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as an umbrella body of auxiliary trade unions, foundation and development of trade unions in Nigeria and the functions, roles of achievement of unions in industrial relations. Furthermore, attempts shall be made to bring out salient ingredients of trade unions that are crucial to industrial relations, especially in crisis situations such as we have during industrial disputes.

INDUSTRIAL Relations as a concept and practice transcend one single party. In most cases, government is the third party involved in Industrial Relations. In its most elementary form, Industrial Relations is the relationship which exists between the workers and the employers in an organisation. This definition appears myopic and inadequate, especially considering the assertion made above which classifies the government as the third party. The definition cited recognizes only two parties – the workers (employees) and the employer. However, the latter i.e. the employer involves the government only on occasions when the government is involved directly as an employer of labour. But the government has a changing face in Industrial Relations. Beyond its functioning as direct employer of labour, governments at various tiers play roles of umpire and arbiter and providing laws and regulations which ensure that the two parties directly involved play the game according to the rules. However, when either party runs foul of the rules of the game, the government plays a regulatory role ensuring that chaos and total breach and breakdown of peace do not result.

Going by the foregoing, government occupies the position of arbiter between employers and workers in an industrial setting. In particular, the government provides the legal framework within which Industrial Relations must operate; and ensuring that parties directly involved act within this framework in their relationship with themselves. Government is not expected to renege on its role, even in increasing cases of its functioning as employer of labour.

Provisions exist in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, allowing workers to unionize and protect their interests, professional and personal welfare thereby. Better put, industrial Relations encapsulates the relationship between groups of workers and their employers or groups of employers. In Nigeria of today, every worker has a right to form and belong to any trade union of his choice. This right is guaranteed through the provisions of Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federation of Nigeria, 1979 which provides as follows:

“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.”

Clarifications of the trade unions and the kind/calibre of workers who may belong to them; as well as amendments and amendment processes to this provision of the constitution do not fall within the purview of this write-up. However, we need to emphasize that various laws exists which regulate the practice of Industrial Relations in Nigeria. Some of these laws are part of the common Law of England which we inherited on our colonization, and have since continued to form part of our laws. There are other laws found in the statutes which were enacted at various times either by the colonial parliament, the pre-military parliament, the military decrees and the post-military National Assemblies.

Up till January 1966, both the National and Regional Assemblies could pass laws relating to labour matters simultaneously. Since 1979, only the Federal Government can legislate on labour matters. Item 33 on the Exclusive Legislative list shown as part 1 to the Second Schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979 provides that only the National Assembly can legislate on: “Labour, including trade unions, industrial relation; conditions, safety and welfare of labour, industrial dispute; prescribing a national minimum wage for the federation or any part thereof; and industrial arbitrations.”

The provision quoted above has proven to err greatly against the present labour market and its configuration. If for instance, aspects touching on minimum wage is legislated by the government at the centre; how is it to effect and enforce the implementation and enactment of such wage rates? In addition, do the statutory allocations accruing to states and local governments from the Federation Accounts receive commensurate increases per time to be capable of catering for increases in wage? These questions are sources of crises in the federation of Nigeria of today, especially in the area of wage increases. The three tiers of government today – federal, state and local – are employers of labour. But all things are not equal among these rungs of government, regarding wage issues. While this crisis lasts, greater crisis lays in wait for private employers of labour. The issue of minimum wage has arisen on previous occasions without provisions made or regulations enforced by government at any level to carry private workers along.

The Nigerians law recognizes the common law rights of a worker and an employer to freely bargain and agree on the terms and conditions of employment and the courts would enforce such terms freely and voluntarily agreed on by the parties, however, seemingly unfair or harsh to one of the parties. However, where there is a statute which imposes limitation on this freedom, the statute will prevail and any provision which does not take into account such a statute would be imperative. The English Common Law is still in operation to play a very important part in regulating contracts of employment particularly in those areas where our statute law is silent. This is why our courts still look forward to decisions of English courts four guidance. Even when we have statutes in Nigeria which are copied from English statutes or based on English Common Law, our courts still seek guidance from decisions of English Courts for the interpretation of such statutes.

The Nigerian legislation deals with various aspects of Industrial Relations. These include.

(i) The provision for minimum terms and conditions of employment of workers as contained in the Labour Act 1974;
(ii) The provision for the formation, registration, recognition, recognition and operation of trade Unions, Central Labour Organizations as contained in the Trade Unions Act 1973,
(iii) The Provision for safety and protection against industrial injuries as contained in the Factories Act. Mining Regulations etc;
(iv) The Provisions for the payment of compensation to persons who get incapacitated as a result of injury suffered at work or to the descendants of persons who die as a result of accidents happening in the course of their employments as contained in the Workman’s Compensation Act and the relevant rules;
(v) The Provision for Collective Bargaining and the settlement of Trade Disputes as contained in the Trade Disputes Act 1976;
(vi) The Provisions for the establishment of the Wages Board for the protection of workers in places where wages are unreasonably low or where no machinery exists for the effective regulation of wages or other conditions of employment as contained in the Wages Boards and Industrial Council Act 1973.

Of the above, there are two aspects which are very crucial and which raise salient questions to the topic of current discourse. First and foremost, the aspect bordering on Regulation of General level of wages. The Wages Board and Industrial Councils Act 1973 provides for the setting up, by the Minister of Labour, of Industrial Wages Boards in areas where wages are unreasonably low or where are no machineries for effective regulation of wages and other conditions of service. It is not yet obvious that the Minister of Labour and Productivity of any time and under this provision for any industry, even as the National Assembly has passed the National Minimum Wages Act during the Second Republic (1979-1983).

Secondly is the aspect bordering on collective bargaining and the settlement of disputes the Trade Act of 1976 contains the operational law in Nigeria on Trade Disputes. This Act consolidates all the previous legislations on the settlement of disputes and the protection of essential services from disruption during trade disputes. This law is aimed at the pursuance of voluntary negotiation between the parties; procedures for involving mediators, conciliators, arbitrators and ultimately the Industrial Court are laid down in the event that such negotiations fail. At all stages in the process, allowance is given for such a settlement that would involve the parties and their nominees and would ensure that the result is acceptable to both sides. This provision has so far guided resolution of trade disputes on several occasions in Nigeria. It is hoped by OSUN DEFENDER Magazine that it shall be brought to bear in the present labour impasse rocking Osun State.

ISSUES regarding trade unions and trade union movement are a vital part of industrial relations. However, trade union movement, like other aspects of our system, is being exposed to external pressures. These pressures promise to change profoundly the image of the unions and more broadly, the kind of industrial relations that the country has. The changes involved, vis a vis the internal and external pressures, union membership, union leadership, union finance and decision-king processes.

In contemporary Nigeria there is increasing concern about the activities and organization of trade union movement. The scope of the widespread concern ranges from the effectiveness and efficiency in union organization and administration, democratic ideals, practices in the unions, the exercise of power in the unions, the leadership of the unions, the attitude of workers to the unions, the relations between the employers and the unions, the relations between the unions, the finance of the unions, the political behaviour of unions, the influence of international labour on the policy and outlook of the unions, through the relations of the unions with the government and the public.

Due to the increasing concern, the appointment was made in 1976 of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Activities of Trade Unions. The tribunal completed its work and reported to the government. The government has issued a White Paper on the reports of the tribunal. With the contents of the report, it is further confirmed that there exist some misgivings of the admirers and critics of the trade union movement. There also emerged the urgent need to save the unions from self-destruction.

Another measure which was embraced resultant from the increasing concern was the appointment of an Administrator of Trade Union Affairs whose tasks include the restructuring of the trade unions in the country. This development came to ensure a better future for the unions. Also it has ensured dynamism for the unions. For many years, the trade union movement which seeks for many years to effect change in industry and the society has for many years refused to change. The new measures were far-reaching options to protect the unions and the public from the failure of the unions to perform the necessary task of self-examination in order to relate more meaningfully to their members and the society. Apart from these, the measures where test for the unions and their members to relate meaningfully to the society. This effectiveness of government regulation is worthwhile till date.

Trade unions need the active support of a growing, loyal and disciplined membership. Membership is critical to define a trade union in terms of its members and what it does for them. In full realization of this fact, mature unions have dynamic policies and programme to minimize dissatisfaction with their pay; their relationships to each other, to the enterprise in which they work, and to the community in which they live. Both the objectives and the methods of the unions are largely economic, with frequent possibilities of having some political overtones. It is an actual fact that though trade unions are built on economic links, they and their members operate in a political environment, which they cannot ignore.
A trade union which has a myopic view of the interests of its members or a blurred vision of its mission in the society is doomed to failure. This reality springs from the fact that although the trade union is an organisation based on the workplace, the unions of today have grown considerably in sizes and number, with increased complexity and contrast of needs of members and society. There is need to harmoniously strike a balance, therefore.

Also, the long-term goals of unions need be determined. Long-term goals are usually articulated in the unions’ constitutions. The short term goals are hammered out at union meetings and negotiation sessions. Trade unions should be in a better position to address themselves to their legitimate goals. The prospects of performance in trade union movement as well as command over the resources that are required for operational purposes need be enhanced. Also, proper identification and definition need be made, and correctly too, for the interests of their members. Also, unions need to engage in joint solutions to problems.

In every organisation, big or small, there are leadership functions to be performed. The more complex the organization and the environment in which it operates; the greater the need for the leadership in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Such leadership will be required to solve technical and human problems in an integrative manner. The position of the trade union leader is even peculiar in that he leads an organisation whose members’ interests are often opposed to those of the employers and whose members and employer are usually interdependent.

Trade union leaders are sometimes described as new men of power because they lead organisations which have considerable influence on our lives. A new structure is likely to enhance their power. However, there cannot be unlimited power, especially when the welfare of the workers, the growth and survival of the enterprise, and industrial peace are at stake. They have the difficult ask of maintaining a proper and just balance in directing the major activities of the unions.

If a new structure is embraced, one of its effects is to underscore the need for competent and democratic leadership. Another effect is to raise problems of displacement and placement as well as reassignment of function and orientation. Debates so far, regarding the events affecting the unions, on an unfortunate note, have tended to concentrate on one aspect almost to the exclusion of the other. A leadership which can combine competence, integrity and efficiency with democratic style is very difficult to produce in a short period of time. However, the problem must be faced if the unions are to function effectively under the new structure. On the other hand, temporary dislocations in the leadership are less fundamental and certainly not too difficult to tackle in a larger organisation if the leaders are not self-seekers.

An emerging leadership challenges becomes prominent, which the unions will need to address urgently. No government regulatory effort – neither the Administrator of Trade Union Affairs nor public policy can solve the leadership problem on any permanent basis for the unions. The unions and their members need to pay particular attention to the selection, election or appointment of their officers and committee men, their deployment and development, and their remuneration and retention. They must make genuine efforts to reconcile the conflicting requirements of competence, integrity and efficiency with the principles of democratic control.

Another notable aspect is finance. The union needs adequate and regular sources of income as well as sound management of their funds and assets. Sound management or administration of union funds and assets is important not only because resources are not plentiful all the time, but also because the way the unions use their resources is critical to the realization of their objectives.

Policy statements that government has made are indicative of the fact that government would facilitate the introduction of “compulsory” check-off. The introduction of check-off on a larger scale should swell union funds. Similarly, one of the effects of good innovation is the likelihood of an increase in the funds of each union as a result of consolidation of contributions of component unions and elimination of wasteful expenditure. However, increase in union funds can set off or accelerate financial mismanagement if adequate systems of checks and controls are not instituted and maintained. It is a big relief that policy statements have contained that the unions would no longer be in the unfortunate position of relying on foreign interests to pay their bills.

In order to accept the challenge of trade union funds, the unions need to cultivate and enrich their domestic sources of income and keep watchful eyes on their expenditure. On the income of the union, members must be made to see that it is their responsibility to provide the necessary funds and that if they fail to discharge this responsibility, nobody else will do it for them and that the union cannot provide the services which they require. On the expenditure side, union funds must be spent on purposes authorized by the union.

Decision-making is a vital component in trade union movement. Decisions have to be made on many issues. Enlightened decisions can only be taken within the framework of an enlightened and acceptable procedure and on the basis of knowledge and relevant facts. The union must seek consent of the members on policy issues.When an organizational structure is defective, it is very difficult for decisions to be made or implemented or to know who has full authority to speak for the workers. Consequently, it is very important to ensure that the internal organizational structure meets with the need of the workers and the unions. It is necessary to make mention of the needs of the union for collective bargaining, organizational efficiency and democratic control. Also, in the case of the workers, mention must be made of their economic and socio- psychological needs.

“Change is the law of Life”. So, no union can long resist the movement away from complete lay administration. The emergence of a small body of professional administrators can facilitate the process of decision making. A very important safeguard against undesirable bureaucracy is the development and maintenance of an adequate system of communication.

Today’s unions have assumed very large sizes. As a result of their enormous sizes, the questions of how, when and by whom authority is to be exercised have arisen. While centralization might be ideal in certain situations and on certain issues, other situations and issues may demand decentralization. The ultimate objective should be to fit the various parts together and integrate them into processes of decision-making. In this way, the chances of workers being misrepresented will be reduced and they will have a more important role to play than exercising the negative and troublesome right of dissent when they are misrepresented.

THE trade union movement in Nigeria and its numerous tasks and innovative processes traced above may not be elusive in Osun State after all. The state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has proven its mettle and worth in the negotiations which attended the just-resolved crisis. Far from trading blames of political interference in the crisis, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine intends through this series of editions to trace the events and forces at work during the five-week industrial action; as well as defining the terms, tone and spirit of the agreements reached to bring about a truce to the crisis, at least temporarily. The fact that the leadership and membership of the state wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (YUC), Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) and other affiliated unions saw reason to bury the hatchet and call off the strike action for peace to reign and in the overall interest of growth and development of the state has proven it clearly that the workforce has absolved itself from accusations of political interference by opposition political parties which was being traded in some quarters while the industrial action lasted.

While the strike action lasted, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine deliberately refrained from joining issues in the crisis so as not to fail in our avowed duty as unbiased umpire in the crisis and other similar ones that could arise from time to time. It would be recalled that one of the events which constituted the build-up to the climax of the industrial crisis was the allegation being traded in some quarters that the leadership of the leading opposition party in the state, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had contrived, perfected and actually consummated the plot to use labour and student groups to make Governor Aregbesola unpopular and get him unceremoniously removed from office before the completion of his term of office.

It was further alleged that several clandestine meetings were held at the Okuku country home of erstwhile Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the thrust of which was to use the Chairman of the state wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Saka Adesiyan and his team to carry out their nefarious plan afore mentioned. It was added in addition that N31 million was handed over to the trio of Adesiyan, Adetunji and Adejumo to play with in hatching the cancerous plan.

Fortunately, the Wednesday September 14 2011 edition of Gbangba Dekun, an Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) Radio weekly audience-participation programme aired live came to clear the position of the labour leadership in the state over the alleged scam. Speaking at length over issues associated with the strike, the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Saka Adesinyan denied the allegation. He stated unequivocally that labour leadership in the state never compromised the ethics that the workforce should be apolitical and that the peace, progress, growth and development of the state reign paramount in the hearts of both members and leadership of the workforce. This came on the trail of several declarations to negate the allegations by the leadership at their congresses.

By calling off the strike, the labour leadership of Osun State has proven its love for the state, great sense of duty, patriotism and altruism. In the words of Adesiyan in the earlier-mentioned radio programme, workers and government owe it a joint duty and ethical obligation to work as collaborators in seeing to the accelerated growth, progress and development of the state. He pointed out that intervention by various interest groups and stakeholders was appreciated and commendable. Also commenting on the adoption of relativity and the partial implementation of the full implication of the minimum wage as against its implementation across board, Adesiyan noted that the decision to so agree with government was to forestall disunity, disintegration and crack among the membership of labour union in the state. He appreciated the invaluable role of labour cadre between Grade Levels 1 to 7, who constitute a majority of the entire working populace in the state. Looking at it critically, it would have amounted to selfishness and insensitivity to the needs of others if the higher echelon of labour had insisted on continuing with the strike, in spite of the fact that the tentative agreement is still beneficial to a fraction of labour in the state.

Still commenting on the agreement reached, which put temporary end to the wage crisis, Adesiyan commended the State Government under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola for beating the minimum mark set by the Federal Government. Whereas the Minimum wage limit set by the government at the centre is N18, 000; the present administration in the state has demonstrated its magnanimity by fixing a sum of N19, 012.95 as the minimum wage for the least-paid worker in the state. This demonstration of love and appreciation for the geese that lay the golden egg in the state is further a demonstration by the Government of Ogbeni Aregbesola to effect the full effects of the new minimum wage across board if it had had the financial resources to do so at its disposal.

While OSUN DEFENDER Magazine finds the gesture of the State Government and the way it moved toward the amicable resolution of the crisis highly commendable, we owe it a proximate duty to make comments on the events of the strike and its eventual resolution. It is part of what we owe posterity. It is not worthwhile that a five-week event which nearly crippled economic activities in the state to a complete point of standstill should pass without attracting our attention.

Osun State is blessed with a highly competent, qualified, productive and disciplined workforce. This had probably been one of the indices of classifying the state as a civil service state. An offshoot of this last classification is the problem of dearth of resources which the state grapples with. These two features of our state are antithetical, if they are considered in the true context. Imagine a state that lacks adequate resources to make things happen! This observation reflects a diagnosed underutilization.

Labour should reciprocate government’s good gesture by rededicating itself anew to looking inwardly for means of boosting the state’s Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR). Efforts should now be needed up towards guiding against possible areas of leakages in government’s tax and non-tax sources of income. While it is still expected by the tone of agreement reached between labour and government that much is still awaited to be done in future on the full implementation of the new wage rate across board, it behooves labour to realize that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” This realization is first step in moving the state forward. Acting upon the realization by remaining more decorous, dutiful and hardworking is like transversing the whole mile towards greatness for our state.

By its giant strides made so far since it came on board, the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has clearly demonstrated that it has clues to the economic woes of Osun State. The preparatory steps taken so far to make the state the industrial hub of the South-West and food basket of Nigeria are steps taken in the right direction. Pending the arrival of investors and industrialists who have expressed full interest to operate in the state, it is necessary to put the civil/public service in proper shape. Fortunately, the incumbent administration has always expressed its commitment to carry out civil service reform. It is necessary that this should go hand-in-hand with wage reform. The pace of development and progress recorded by a state derives from the quality of its civil service. This quality is best measured through the productivity of its workforce in marginal terms. In this direction, Osun State Government under Governor Rauf Aregbesola should move fast to organise training, retraining, seminars, workshop and all the like that can transform and revamp civil and public service in the state.

In conjunction with the foregoing, the public service of the state urgently needs to be computerized. This is greatly desirable if fast-tracking our productivity and development is worthy pursuit. The lip-service which consecutive previsions administrations in the state accorded this aspect of our socio-economic life is a jinx that must be broken.

The understanding demonstrated through its dealing with labour so far shows that the administration of Ogbeni Aregbesola knows and fully appreciates the civil service as the engine-room of the state. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine closes this first in the series on the just-ended industrial dispute. The next part shall do justice to probing issues, clarifications and intricate matters regarding the strike action and the full resolutions that have given peace a chance. TO BE CONTINUED.