Michael Oche, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government to take further bold measures to address the challenges that confronted the country in 2017 so as to have an improved situation in 2018.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in his New Year Message congratulated Nigerian working people and pensioners for their resilience in surviving and pulling through the year 2017, which he said proved to be one of the most difficult for most Nigerians in recent history.
According to Wabba the previous year saw the working people, pensioners and other Nigerians facing series of daunting socio-economic and security challenges, even though they had hoped that the year would offer succour for the masses.
He said despite the huge revenue that the states have received through the Federal Government intervention funds to clear arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions in many states of the federation, coupled with additional payment of three tranches of windfall, (Paris Club debt refunds), states like Osun, Benue, Ekiti, Bayelsa and several others entered 2018 with huge arrears spanning up to ten or more months of wages and pensions.
Wabba said as the country approaches the 2019 general elections, workers will certainly not forget governors that subjected them to untold hardship by refusal to pay their earned entitlements on the excuse of scarcity of resources while choosing to pay themselves, their political appointees and cronies’ huge packages.
He said, “We note the positive sides of 2017, which include the fact that we statistically moved out of recession in the course of the year; the continuing fight against corruption, improvement in the security situation a some progress in agricultural yields; in addition to efforts to implement the macro-economic recovery measures.”
On the implementation of a new national minimum wage, Wabb said it is the expectation of Nigerian workers that the committee under the chairmanship of Ms Ama Pepple, former Head of Service of the Federation, will expeditiously conclude its assignment.
He said this is because a new national minimum wage has been due for over a year now.
“It is also our expectation that upon completion of negotiations, the National Assembly will give the executive bill that will emerge, an accelerated passage for the new national minimum wage to become a reality before the end of the 3rd quarter of 2018,” he said.
On the fuel scarcity challenge, the NLC president said Nigeria is the only major producer of crude oil in the world that depends on importation of refined products from abroad.
He said as long as this remains the case, Nigerians would continue to be subjected to this intermittent scarcity. According to him, Congress had explicitly stated this fact in their 188-page “Report of the NLC Committee on Deregulation”, submitted to the Yar’Adua government in 2010 and which they gave to top officials of this administration when they assumed office in 2015.
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