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NLC seeks downward review of political officeholders’ salaries

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• Urges MDAs to comply with Auditor-General’s reports

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged downward review of the salaries of political officeholders in the country.This was contained in a communiqué signed by Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, and General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, at the end of the inaugural meeting of the NLC’s National Administrative Council (NAC), in Abuja.

NLC insisted that Nigeria is haemorrhaging heavily under the yoke of huge salaries for political officeholders, and any increase at this time will spell doom for the economy, saying that their salaries should be determined by the buoyancy of the national economy.

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“Accordingly, we demand that the review of the salaries or emoluments of political officeholders be downward and not upward,” it stated.The NLC resolved to engage the process in the event the National Income Salaries and Wages Commission goes ahead with its proposed upward review. Congress also frowned at the non-adherence to the audit report of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), by most Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government. 

The meeting observed that most audit queries or observations of the AGF are often treated with levity if not totally ignored by MDAs.It stated that the non-enforcement of the AGF’s queries is an act of impunity, and a violation of the extant code of governance, and that such carefree attitude encourages abuse and corruption in the system.

In the light of this, Congress called on MDAs to henceforth implement the observations of the AGF as part of the process of fighting corruption and inculcating the culture of transparency, and urged the National Assembly to strengthen the hand of the AGF if necessary.

It also disclosed of plans to employ state secretaries in all the state councils to strengthen the work of Congress as well as promote the culture of accountability and internal governance.

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The meeting equally approved the commencement of a roundtable bi-monthly dialogue, which begun on the February 5, that will be a forum for reviewing policies, discussing issues of national importance, formulating strategies as well as offering alternative views or models when necessary.

Other concerns raised by the Congress included: the steady deterioration of security in Nigeria, noting that acts of banditry and cattle rustling are assuming dangerous dimension, especially in the North East.

Specifically, the takeover of major access roads leading to frequent abduction and slaughtering of commuters, the disconnection of Maiduguri, Borno State and its environs from the national grid, the gradual loss of territory and morale by troops, Nigeria seems to have come full circle in its fight against Boko Haram.

NLC further observed that the resurgence of herder-crop farmer clashes in the North Central, especially Plateau, Benue, and Kogi states; frequent abduction and killings in the South-West; and renewed offensive by bandits and rustlers in Zamfara and Katsina necessitating aerial bombardment, the initial gains against threats to internal security seem to have been wiped out, thereby creating fresh anxiety.

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The meeting noted the new wave of abduction for ransom across Nigeria, including Abuja city centre, which it described as disturbing, adding that prescriptions by various segments of society on how to end the crippling state of insecurity are not only a reflection of their concerns but the degree of the severity of the situation.

Accordingly, the NLC urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do all that is necessary to restore security and confidence to every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
   
It stressed the need to urgently adopt, among other things, new thinking, tough decisions, a holistic approach, broader briefing processes, increased reliance on technology, more citizen participation and enhanced vigilance at the borders.

The NLC observed that despite the provisions of the Labour Act S. 7 (1), which frowns at casualisation of workers in Nigeria, casual workers are highly vulnerable as they cannot belong to unions, neither can they benefit from collective agreements nor other workplace benefits, including job security, social protection, promotions, leave, safety and health, etc.It argued that casualisation is short-sighted and counterproductive, as in the long run, it creates work-place hostility, industrial disharmony, and threat to economic development.

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