Two union leaders in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing were arrested and detained on Thursday by the police following an alleged order by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
It was gathered that the union chairman, Mr. Aliu Abdulazeez; and the secretary, Mr. Sam Apeh, of the National Civil Service Union at the FMPWH were apprehended following a massive protest by workers, as they grounded activities at the Mabushi headquarters of the ministry in Abuja on Thursday morning.
The workers closed the major road leading to the different buildings of the ministry, barricaded the gates of the various structures and stopped vehicular movements into the different car parks of ministry.
They claimed that the minister had been treating them poorly since he came onboard as head of the “three-in-one ministry.”
The protester brandished various placards which had inscriptions such as, “We are not slaves in this ministry;” “Fashola, treat workers with respect;” “No training, no welfare, no salary,” etc.
One of the protesters and staff at the works ministry, who simply gave his name as Mr. Wasiu, said, “It is obvious that the President made an error to have merged three big ministries as one and handed it over to one man. Activities at only the ministry of works is too much for one minister, not to talk of adding power and housing to it.
“Fashola has abandoned workers’ welfare. He only works with a few aides, particularly those who came with him from Lagos. The man is not concerned about us; he does not train workers, he owes salaries and now, because we protested against the maltreatment, he called the police to arrest our leaders.
Another staff of the ministry who was also one of the protesters said, “What kind of minister do we have? We will continue to protest against unfair treatment of workers because this is not how things should be done. The management under his (Fashola) leadership must stop sidelining people. It is not fair!
“The police should release our leaders. What we are doing is a peaceful protest and we closed the road and gates because they have refused to listen to us despite several complaints by our leaders. So, why detain our leaders? Since the minister and his management team decided not to listen to us quietly, we had no choice but to protest.”
When contacted and briefed about the claims of the workers, the minister’s Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, in a text message response to our correspondent simply said, “To call you shortly, please.”
But he had yet to make the call or send a detailed response to our correspondent’s enquiry up till the time of filing this report.Punch