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Nationwide strike will bring more suffering to workers, governors tell labour

By Guardian Nigeria
26 September 2020   |   4:26 am
Governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) against embarking on a nationwide industrial action.

• Say Petroleum Subsidy Promoting Corruption, Revenues, Jobs Losses
• No Going Back, Vows Labour
• Seeks Deregulation Of Governors’ Salaries
• Flays Non-Implementation Of Minimum Wage

Governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) against embarking on a nationwide industrial action.

The governors’ position was contained in a communiqué issued by NGF’s Vice Chairman and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal at the end of the Forum’s 18th teleconference meeting.

According to the state chief executives, any such action would worsen the already deteriorating economic situation of the workers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum members, according to Tambuwal, instead suggested the provision of a cushioning arrangement to ameliorate the effect of subsidy removal. But the NLC, in a reaction, called on the National Assembly to enact a law that would deregulate the salaries and emoluments of state governors in the country.   Vice President of the Congress and General Secretary of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, Peters Adeyemi, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, while reacting to the communiqué issued by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) calling on labour to shelve the strike scheduled to begin on Sunday night/Monday morning, said governors should not be placed on the same salary scale nationwide.  

“If there are alternatives to petrol and epileptic power supply, who will go on strike because of increment in prices? Everyone is shouting because there are no alternatives and there are no roads and infrastructure in the country. “Government that is serious will, first of all, provide the needed infrastructure before introducing policies that can increase the suffering of the people. Due to lack of critical infrastructure and poor remuneration of the working people of this country, labour will embark on this strike until reason prevails and the status quo returned to. There is no going back.” 

Adeyemi stated: “Why should governors that are from the disadvantaged states be collecting the same salaries that those from well endowed states and a state like Lagos are collecting? States governors should be paid from what they generate in their state.

“With the challenges of cash crunch afflicting the country, have the lifestyles of state governors changed? Are they not flying chartered flights everywhere? It is now an abomination for state governors to take commercial flights in Nigeria.

“So, by their lifestyles, they are not in a position to appeal to labour to shelve the strike.” Adeyemi also flayed the NGF for opposing the protests against increment in pump price of petrol and electricity tariffs for selfish purpose, saying: “The governors are part of the problems of this country. They have always endorsed deregulation, because that will bring more money into the federation account for sharing.

“They are not apostles of the people and cannot speak on behalf of the people. What have the governors done to better the lots of the poor masses of this country? If they do their work well at the state level, would we be complaining?”
He pointed out that the current resistance from labour ought to have begun when the price of petrol was reduced slightly, noting: “We ought to have said no, as there was no basis for the reduction. That is when we played into government hands. Now, we are playing catch up game with them. The reduction was a trap set to introduce this obnoxious policy.

“Why is government deregulation policy always about prices? Who is talking about refineries? Who is concerned by the dollar disparity when payments are made to the marketers?”

Adeyemi also bemoaned the non-implementation of the minimum wage law amid by state governors amid economic challenges posed by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but would support deregulation policy aimed at further deregulating the quality of lives of Nigerian masses.

He added: “How many states are implementing the minimum wage law in their states? But now, they want to support deregulation, while maintaining beggarly salaries they are paying workers? We won’t allow that.

Tambuwal, who disclosed that the NGF has set up a committee, comprising governors of Jigawa (Chairman), Nasarawa, Ogun, Kwara, Gombe, Abia and Bayelsa states to interface with the National Economic Council, the Labour unions and relevant stakeholders for the overall interest of the country, noted that the governors insisted that subsidy in the petroleum sector, apart from promoting corruption in petroleum pricing and distribution, also brings about loss of revenues to the three tiers of government and jobs to the populace.

He stated: “The NGF secretariat will provide relevant support to the committee on the details of the mechanism for deregulation put in place by the federal government.

“Call for an emergency NEC meeting as soon as the committee comes up with a common position on the deregulation of both the petroleum and power sectors and the figures laid bare for all to see.

“Members advised that any position taken by the Forum should not be seen to be contrary or injurious to the position of state governors.

“Communiqué have always maintained in support of deregulation.”On the deduction of local government statutory allocation for the construction of primary healthcare centres in each of the councils, Tambuwal stated:
“Governors expressed serious concern over deductions from the Federation Allocation of the 774 local government of the country to construct and equip healthcare centres (PHCs) in each local government area on behalf of the Association of Local Governments Of Nigeria (ALGON)”

“The Forum rejected the legality and legitimacy of the contract, including all financing arrangements.

“NGF calls on the minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation not to disburse to receiving entities monies already deducted for the construction of PHCs in each of the 774 LGAs, and that further deductions should be halted forthwith.”

He disclosed that the Forum has constituted a committee, comprising governors of Ekiti (Chairman), Ebonyi, Delta, Gombe, Plateau and Kano states to represent state and local governments on the matter, adding that the committee would also approach President Muhammadu Buhari; minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; National Judicial Council (NJC) and minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to appeal against the judgment.