By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday, waned the Federal Government against any cuts in salaries or a reversal of the N18,000 national minimum wage over the nation’s purported dwindling revenue.
Congress said it would resist any attempt by the Federal Government to further remove subsidy on petrol to further impoverish Nigerian workers and the masses.
While reacting to statements credited to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the excess crude fund had been depleted to $3.6 billion and that Nigerians should brace for hard times said the depletion of the nation’s revenue was the result of massive corruption in government and its agencies, acting President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said both the Federal and State Governments should not take steps that could worsen the political and security situation in the country.
He, however, advised government to take concrete steps in reducing the high cost of governance as it promised and ensure more devolution of power including resources to the states, stressing: “NLC notes with concern statements in the past few days by government officials which point to an intent to further increase the price of fuel and deepen the poverty of the people.
“The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had declared that the excess crude fund had been depleted to $3.6billion and that Nigerians should brace for hard times especially if the prices of crude oil were to take a dip.
The Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had made the hints clearer when in a follow-up statement at the weekend in New York, he said a reduction in the price of crude oil ‘… would lead to a massive depreciation of the currency, a collapse in the reserves and a huge growth in deficits.’ With this, he declared that many states would be unable to pay salaries.
“The NLC declares that the depletion of the nation’s funds is by the government and not the people and that the primary problem is the massive corruption in government. Also, we will not accept cuts in salaries or the reversal of the N18,000 minimum wage in the name of dwindling state finances.
The NLC does not accept that the Nigerian people should continue to be impoverished by the lack of vision and planning by our leaders. Nigerians have been made to suffer for too long due to the profligacy of our rulers, and the Congress will not accept additional suffering being heaped on them.
“The Federal and State Governments have the duty and responsibility to pay wages as and when due without any cut. If this happens, labour and its allies would have no choice but to resist it.”