President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has assured Nigerian workers that ongoing negotiations for a new national minimum wage will be concluded before the end of August, expressing the hope however that implementation will begin immediately.
Wabba also said that despite claims by government that the country has exited recession, Nigerians were yet to see the results of the exit as the social and economic situations of average Nigerians are daily becoming bleaker than before.
The Congress also said that the numerous problems facing the country and its people are signs of bad governance and bad leadership which has characterized the nation’s democracy since 1999.
Speaking at the 16th Rain School and the 32nd in the sequence of the NLC National Schools, with the theme “Labour, Politics and National Unity: Expanding the Frontiers of Workers’ Participation”, President of Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the Labour movement remains the only institution can integrate the Nigerian people because it is never divided along primordial lines.
He said: “The Nigerian nation is undergoing numerous challenges ranging from economic crisis, security crisis and other socio-cultural challenges that we must all come to terms with and collectively tackle.
“Innocent lives are being killed and dispensed with, as human lives do not count so much to those committing these heinous crimes. Young people are being exploited and used by disgruntled people who are manipulating them because of the crisis of development which have created mass poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country.
“The numerous problems confronting the country and its people are signs of bad governance and leadership which has characterized our democracy since 1999.
“The Labour movement remains the only standing political institution that has the wherewithal to make national integration possible. This is because; we are never divided along sentimental lines that other political institutions are known with. And that is why we keep insisting that ethnic and religious sentiments have no place in the movement.
“We are amused that some politicians in the name of expanding the frontiers of capitalism do not see any good in the existence of trade unions. They have forgotten that the working people are the producers of wealth which service their political careers from where they are occupying the political positions.
“It is in the face of practicing an obscured and jaundiced capitalism that many state governors deliberately refused to pay the salaries of the workers and pensions in their states.
“One very saddening case is that of Kaduna State, where Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i has embarked on an illusory agenda of ensuring that trade unions become extinct by stopping payment of salary, pensions and check-off dues.
“Let me have it on record those governors and other political officer holders are elected or appointed to serve the people and not kill them through stoppage of the means of their survival and that of their organizations.
“Nigerians have been told that the country has gotten out of recession, but we are yet to see the result of the exit of the country from recession as the social and economic situations of average Nigerians is daily becoming bleaker than before.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress acknowledges the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of elections especially, Congress commends the sterling performance of the INEC in the conduct of the recent governorship election in Ekiti State which was adjudged to be free and fair and devoid of violence by observers.
“Congress is excited with these performances and in this light wants to call on INEC to come up with some innovations that can make our electoral system better.
“As the 2019 General elections approach, Congress implores the political parties and politicians to conduct themselves in a civilized way that is in compliance with international best practices through observance and adherence to the electoral rules and regulations.
The Congress and other stakeholders are still meeting on the issues of minimum wage and hopefully will round up by August 2018. With Minimum wage as one of the most important ways of motivating workers to provide effective service, it is envisaged that, its implementation will engender growth not only among the public sector workers but also among the workers in the private and informal sectors of the economy.
In Addition, the financial benefits associated with the minimum wage would trickle down to the whole society. It is instructive to state that the Congress will continue to pursue its goal of ensuring Labour participation in politics using its structures and programmes.