The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC ) has said that the failure and inability of President Muhammadu Buhari led government to address the infrastructural deficit and other related problems, especially in he oil industry has dashed the hope placed on the change promised Nigerians by the APC led government.
The congress said Nigerians have continued to be at the receiving end, with over 4 million Nigerians losing their job in 2017 according to statistics provided by the National Bureau of Statistics as against the three million jobs annually promised the party.
In his new year message to Nigerians, NLC President, Comrade Abubakar Wabba lamented that 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 already saturated unemployment market and wretchedness.
According to him, 2017 saw the working people, pensioners and other Nigerians facing series of daunting socio-economic and security challenges, “even though we had hoped that the year would offer succour for the masses of the people.”
Wabba said the deplorable economic situation in 2017 is aptly captured by the statistics recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which indicated that over 4 million Nigerians lost their jobs in 2017.
He said: “Against the background of the campaign promise of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government to create three million jobs annually, this statistics from the NBS underscores the grave and depressing situation of the Nigerian economic landscape in 2017.
“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 already saturated 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. No wonder, our country is one of the worst, known for having many hungry people in the world according to the World Hunger Index report 2017.”
He stressed that in recent times, Nigerians have witnessed one of the worst shortages in the supply of petrol in the history of the country in spite of 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 that 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 remain the only major producer of crude oil in the world that depends on importation of refined products from abroad.
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 quarters of the year and urged the National Assembly to give accelerated hearing g 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 therefore call on the State 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 wants the National Assembly and State Houses of Assemblies to ensure that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries is put on first line charge of the Federation Account to assuage the fears of all stakeholders in the local government system.
“Over the years, the Congress has advocated for good governance as a basis for sustainable development of our country. We have in similar tone campaigned against corruption in our body politics, as this malady has remained the greatest impediment to our quest for national development.
“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,