Wike: Rivers judiciary has financial autonomy — solidarity strike pointless

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Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, says his state has implemented financial autonomy for judiciary workers, hence, should not “suffer solidarity strikes” because of others.

The governor said judiciary workers should face non-implementing states and leave Rivers out of the strike.

The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had on April 8 embarked on the strike in protest of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.

The strike has paralysed activities in courts across the country, and on Monday, members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) joined in solidarity.

Addressing the lawyers who converged at the Rivers government house on Monday, he said: “My position concerning the JUSUN strike in Rivers state is simple. Rivers state has painstakingly implemented financial autonomy for the State’s Judiciary. We shouldn’t suffer solidarity strikes because other states are not implementing the same.

“Non-implementing states can be held to the task but there is really no reason for a solidarity strike or protest in Rivers state, I used the opportunity to request for Rivers state’s JUSUN to call off their strike and open the courts in Rivers state.

“Again, you have said here that you’re protesting because of what you fear could happen when I leave office, on whether my successor will continue to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary.

“Why not wait until then and protest if the person is not implementing it. What do you want me to do with the person who is coming after me, to compel him to do what?

“This protest is useless, as far as this state is concerned. You have no reason. I challenged anybody on it. Tell your president, they should name those states that are not implementing it and tell judiciary workers in those states to go on strike against them not here.

“Except I will withdraw the implementation so that you can go on strike. It cannot be implemented, then you are going on strike. Does it make sense? So, tell JUSUN to come back to work.

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“If they don’t come back to work, me too, I will stop implementing the financial autonomy so that the strike will be justified.”

In another development, the governor said states should be allowed to develop and operate their mineral resources and pay a royalty to the federal government

Wike said such a plan is pertinent because the federal government has failed to translate the mineral resources at its disposal into widespread economic development.

He spoke when Uchechukwu Ogah, minister of state for mines and steel development, paid a courtesy visit to the government house.

Kelvin Ebiri, Wike’s special assistant on media, said the governor maintained that in order for the country to benefit from its vast mineral endowment, the federal government should concentrate on the formulation of policies that will improve the mining sector.

“The federal government is carrying so much load that they are not supposed to carry. Allow states to develop these minerals and pay royalty to the federal government. That is the way it’s supposed to be,” Wike said.

“It is very important for people to know that part of the problem in this country is that everybody is depending on oil when we are also supposed to look at other minerals. Minerals play a great role in terms of raising revenue for any country. So, our overemphasis on oil has reduced our impact on other minerals.”

Wike said if the federal government fully harnesses the gold deposit in Zamfara as well as others in states across the nation, the country will make a lot of revenue that can accelerate development.

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