*Calls For Emergency Meeting Tuesday Over Subsidy, Electricity Tariff
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised state governors, unable to pay the N18,000 minimum wage to immediately resign from office, adding that any governor reneging on the said amount was breaking the law of the land.
This was contained in a statement made by the National President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Wabba, who spoke while speaking with journalists shortly after attending the Janazah prayers organised for the late wife of the former Vice-President of NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, Hamdalah, said that the N18,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers was not fixed but was negotiated through a tripartite system.
According to the NLC, “They have been misinforming the people about the N18,000 minimum wage. Minimum wage is not fixed, it was negotiated through a tripartite system; 10 state governors represented the governors, federal government and organised private sector were also represented. It was a tripartite process of collective bargaining.
“We had looked at all the indices of ability to pay. It is a law and anybody who refuses to pay is breaking the law of Nigeria and we advise such governor to resign.
“Why is it that the salary of councillors to the highest political office all over the country despite their inability to pay is the same? If there is economic challenge, why should it be the workers that will bear the burden? Councillors in least economic viable to the most economic viable states in the country earn the same salaries. So who are they fooling? Wabba asked.
“Can they continue to fool us? When the resources were there workers were not enjoying. Now that there is a challenge in the system why should the burden be shifted only to the workers? That is not acceptable to us. This is like a battle for us as we must continue to insist that workers should work in dignity and there must be dignity in labour,” he posited.
Speaking on the war against corruption, Wabba said, “The ongoing probe is not unexpected. Since the inception of the current democracy people have assisted themselves with our commonwealth. I am sure if we are able to recover these resources from local, state to federal governments, we will have more than enough to fix our system and everybody will enjoy the system.
“Now they don’t steal in millions; we hear of billions these days. They will buy houses they cannot use. They will buy houses in Nigeria, Dubai and United Kingdom. How many houses will a person sleep in in a particular night? Therefore, it is vanity for politicians to continue to loot even what they cannot use.
“For me the anti-corruption war must be consistent; it must also go down to the ladder including the organised private sector. All of us must be interrogated. Corruption has killed many people even more than road accidents. The roads are not fixed because the resources meant to fix the roads have been frittered away. Why are the hospitals not functioning optimally and people are dying? It is because, the resources are supposed to be used to fix the hospitals have been misappropriated. That is why we are canvassing for capital punishment. It has worked elsewhere.
“The apparent slowness in the current administration is because what is required to fight corruption, must be put in place; I also know that when you fight corruption the people involved will fight back. And the process will also slow the person fighting it down; but the president should continue to be consistent. He should not be deterred because it is only a clean leader that can fight corruption. We urge him to be consistent in his war against corruption because that is why Nigerians voted for him for a positive change,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NLC has called an emergency meeting of its National Working Committee for Tuesday, to take a decision on the increasing demand for the removal of fuel subsidy by some sections of the Nigerian society.
While making the announcement, the General Secretary of the NLC, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, said the meeting would deliberate on critical issues affecting the workers and the citizens.
Some of the issues to be deliberated at the meeting includes the current pressure on the government to remove the subsidy on petroleum products, planned increase of electricity tariff, and plans by some state governors to cut down on the minimum wage.
He said: “We remain opposed to the calls for the removal of the fuel subsidy. We think those who are calling for the removal do not understand the implication of removing it, it has serious implications.
“Based on this renewed call for the removal of fuel subsidy, we have called an emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee of the congress for Tuesday at 1pm to discuss these issues.
“These are the issues of new pressure for the removal of subsidy, the issue of the plan for the increase of electricity tariff and the illegal move by some governors to reduce the minimum wage.”