What govt should do this year, by NLC - The No.1 Infotainment blog

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Monday, 1 January 2018

What govt should do this year, by NLC

NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised the Federal Government to create jobs, address infrastructure deficit and tackle the problems in the oil sector to avoid fuel shortage.
In a message to Nigerians to mark the New Year, NLC President Ayuba Wabba slammed Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s planned sack of over 22,000 teachers who failed a competence test.
The congress recalled the loss of over four million jobs in 2017, according to statistics provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as against the provision of three million jobs annually promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in its manifesto.
According to Wabba, 2017 saw the working people, pensioners and other Nigerians facing a series of daunting socio-economic and security challenges, even though they had hoped that the year would offer succour for the masses.
He said: “Rather than work to create jobs and improve the condition of Nigerian working people and Nigerians in general, leading elements in the ruling APC government, like Governor Nasir El-Rufai, have been taking measures to further chastise and ruin Nigerians by throwing tens of thousands of workers into the unemployment market and wretchedness.
“In the same vein, 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 Kogi, Osun, Benue, Ekiti, Bayelsa and several others entered 2018 with huge arrears spanning up to ten (10) or more months of wages and pensions.
“Under these conditions, Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families remained the most despondent group in an economy that even the well-to-do are groaning and struggling to survive.”
He stressed that recently Nigerians had witnessed one of the worst shortages in the supply of petrol in the history of the country, in spite of the Federal Government’s repeated claim that with the complete removal of subsidy on petroleum products, scarcity of petroleum products would become a thing of the past.
Wabba said the position of the congress regarding the prevailing situation in the petroleum industry has been that the crisis in the industry is due to the inability or refusal of our ruling elite to refine all petroleum needs in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria remains the only major producer of crude oil that imports refined products.
He said: “For us in the Congress, and for majority of working people in Nigeria, the hope placed on the capacity of President Buhari to bring about positive change is being undermined by his government’s inability to address the infrastructural deficit and other related problems in the oil industry, such as making our existing refineries work at optimal capacity by refining products for domestic consumption.
“Not only is government unable to achieve this for almost three years now, but moving forward, more refineries, especially modular refineries, which can be built between 12 and 18 months, are required to address the reoccurring challenge of fuel scarcity and price hike in Nigeria and stop the exploitation of ordinary Nigerians. The inherent corruption in the system has made this impossible for more than three decades and should be addressed headlong.”
On the new minimum wage, Wabba said the tripartite committee recently inaugurated should expeditiously conclude its assignment and ensure that a new minimum wage is put in place before the third quarter of the year and urged the National Assembly to give accelerated hearing  to the bill that will be produced by the committee.
On local government autonomy, the NLC President said: “Congress appreciates the recent passage of three core bills on local government autonomy in Nigeria by the National Assembly. It is our belief that the passage of the constitutional amendment to guarantee local government autonomy will promote good governance and deepen democratic culture at the grassroots level.
“We call on the Houses of Assembly to demonstrate courage, patriotism and assert their desired independence by passing these constitutional amendment bills designed towards emancipating our local governments and freeing their finances from being usurped by governors who are determined to truncate the quest for democratisation at the local government level.”
Wabba called for putting the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries on first line charge of the Federation Account to assuage the fears of all stakeholders in the local government system.
“We believe that the ascendancy of the APC to power was rooted on the personal integrity and anti-corruption pedigree of President Buhari. As we move into 2018, our expectation is that the executive arm of government would push for the implementation of key anti-corruption protocols and good governance principles in our public and private institutions.
“In the same vein, we call on the government to increase the tempo of the fight against corruption in a way that is fair, just and all encompassing.”
Wabba said the workers will observe January 11 as a day of solidarity with the workers of Kaduna State. He promised that the union would mobilise workers to march for the reversal of the sack of kaduna teachers.
Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige, however, assured Nigerians that the government would stem job loses his year.
In his New Year message, Ngige asked Nigerians not to tremble over the recent statistics on job losses released by the NBC as the development is effectively modulated by a similar release by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), which indicates over a seven  million job growth in the Agricultural sector during the year.
He said: “I wish to assure Nigerians that 2018 will not be as bleak as 2017 in terms of job losses as the Federal Government has put enough checks to forestall a repeat of what was encountered in 2017.
“As a matter of fact, the figure released by the NBC must be placed alongside statistics by the Central Bank of Nigeria which shows that over seven million jobs have been created in the Agricultural Sector. This is the only way to arrive at a balanced job situation in the country.”
He said the Federal Government would work harder to create more jobs and sustain the current efforts at protecting the existing ones. “We shall continue to maintain our principled stand against retrenchment and encourage the state governments to do same.”

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