ByÂ Funmi Komolafe, Victor Ahiuma-Young & Oscarline Onwuemenyi
LABOURâ€”THE two labour unions in the country, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, weekend set agenda for Acting President, Dr. GoodluckÂ Jonathan, urging him to focus on electoral reform, power generation, healthcare, infrastructure and revival of industries, among others.
Similarly, the leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has charged the Acting President to expedite action on the post amnesty programme, the petroleum industry bill and electoral reforms.
The umbrella bodies for both junior and senior workers in the country also demanded that Dr. Jonathan put a stop to mass sack of bank employees, consent to a new national minimum wage, be decisive in removing non-performing ministers who had become very heady and inject fresh hands into the cabinet for effective governance.
While the NLC made its feelings known at the end of the meeting of its leaders under the aegis of the Central Working Committee, CWC; the TUC on its part, presented its position in a statement issued, weekend, in Lagos.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the CWC meeting, President of NLC, ComradeÂ Abdulwaheed Omar said: â€œIt is barely one year to another general election and CWC is disturbedÂ that no fundamental step has been taken to implement the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Panel report. CWC demands a presidential intervention to ensure implementation of the key recommendations that will guarantee credible election.â€
NLC was represented in the Justice Uwais panel which submitted a report on electoral reform.
In his comments on the review of the national minimum wage, Omar said, the Acting President should ensue that the tripartite agreement of labour, government and private employers are upheld. He said negotiation was almost concluded.
On the banking reform which has claimed over 3,000 jobs in the last two months, NLC said, â€œCWC believes that the mass sack in the banking sector is completely against the logic of using tax payersâ€™ money to bail out ailing banks. CWC demands that the Acting President impresses it upon banks to recall all those affected by the mass retrenchmentâ€.
The Niger-Delta amnesty programme initiated by President Umar Yarâ€™ Adua also featured in the NLCâ€™s agenda for the acting president. NLC president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar said, â€œthe acting president should immediately put the machinery in motion given that the deadline for the implementation of the terms of the amnesty has been exceededâ€.
Emphasizing the importance of power, the NLC noted that â€œthe federal government failed to meet its set target of generating 6000 mega watts of electricity by the end of last year and calls on the Acting President to intervene within the shortest possible time to improve on the current power supplyâ€.
It urged the Acting President to sustain the social dialogue with labour, stressing: â€œit is important that this engagement should be sustainedâ€.
The NLC was, however, critical of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, stating, â€œin this crisis the role of the PDP has been less than satisfactory as it did not act timely and decisively to get the Vice President, a party member to step in as Acting Presidentâ€.
TUC tasks Jonathan on healthcare, others
On its part, TUC in a statement by its President-General and Secretary-General, Comrade Peter Esele, and Chief John Kolawole, commended members of the National Assembly over last weekâ€™s proclamation confirming the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the nationâ€™s Acting President, stressing that the joint declaration by the Senate and the House of Representatives had saved the country from further ridicule among the comity of nations.
The statement read in part: â€œWe expect the Acting President to wake up to the realities on ground and initiate actions on such burning national issues such as poor power supply, irregularities in fuel distribution, poor infrastructure and the provision of world class health facility capable of handling various cases such as the ones that have brought us to this point.
â€œTUC demands that the Acting President be decisive in determining those to work with either as ministers, special advisers and other machineries necessary for effective governance. No minister should be higher than the office he/she occupies. What we are saying in essence is that fresh hands should be brought in while those that have become heady and unpopular should be dropped immediately.
â€œThe last minor shake-up is not all that we expect. The present ministers have failed the nation. We also demand a probe into activities of the various ministries and agencies during the period this whole episode was being played out to determine how money and other budgetary provisions were spent.â€
NUPENG seeks action on post amnesty, PIB
On its part, the leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has charged the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to expedite action on the post- amnesty programme, the petroleum industry bill and electoral reforms.
Rising from its Central Working Committee, CWC, meeting, weekend, in Abuja, NUPENG pledged its full support for the leadership of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
In a communiquÃ© signed by President of NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese, and General Secretary, Mr. Elijah Okougbo, the Union not only commended the maturity and political sagacity in which the looming political logjam was resolved, but also passed what it termed a vote of implicit confidence in the leadership of Jonathan. Equally, the Union pledged â€˜the unalloyed support of oil and gas workersâ€™ in Nigeria to the Acting President.
On the state of the refineries, the NUPENG CWC reiterated the Union â€˜s position which frowned at the prostrate state of the refineries, a situation that has led to continuous importation of petroleum products. It called on the government to put in place necessary regulatory machinery for improved domestic production, storage and distribution of petroleum products including repair of vital pipelines which convey crude to the refineries.
The union, however, gave high marks to the new initiative by the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, under the watch of Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, to end the fuel supply and distribution challenges in the country.
The communique said: â€œThe CWC in-session commends the new approach adopted by the NNPC Management (war room) to end the harrowing scarcity of petroleum products with the introduction of a fool proof distribution network for petroleum products in the nation. CWC, therefore, insists that more efforts should be put in place to sustain this new positive initiative.â€