By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – BARELY two weeks after Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Eso State disowned governors over their recent plan to stop payment of the N18,000 minimum wage, the governor Tuesday said he will personally lead the protest against any governor that fails to pay the agreed minimum wage.
The Edo state governor also told those that were involved in the alleged N2 billion recovered loot from former military head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha said to have used in the purchase of arms to be ready to give account of their involvement in the arms deal.
Assuring the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) of his commitment towards leading protest against any governor that reneged on the agreed payment of the minimum wage at the the 6th quadrennial national delegates conference of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in Abuja, he said there was no justification for any governor not to pay the wage.
He also justified the refusal of the Federal Government to allow ex-National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to travel out of the country on health ground.
According to him, “I have told my fellow governors that when the going gets tough, everybody will answer his father’s name. I am not and I will not support any government, any governor, federal or state that misunderstood the problem to focus on the weakest link.
“Be assured that you can count on me. If you want to organize protest, I will join. I will not only join to protest against refusal to pay minimum wage, but to press for the idea of minimum wage to be sustained.”
Insisting that the Federal Government must prosecute all ex-officials that were involved in the alleged two billion Abacha loot on arms purchase without the authorization of the National Assembly, he said competent medical doctors were in the country to attend to anyone that has health challenges.
He said: “Competent medical doctors are available in the country, yet a man is facing treason charges, huge corruption charges and Judges are granting permission for him to travel overseas.
“In this democracy, which we said we are supporting unconditionally, it says clearly that there will be separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
“Just last week, the big man was accused of spending about 2billion dollars, even at a time some governors are saying they can’t pay minimum wage. If you divide 2billion dollars by N200 to the dollar and share to all Nigerian workers, you don’t need wages for the next one year.”
Speaking at the occasion, President of NASU, Ladi Illiya blamed ad-hoc nature of negotiations for the incessant industrial strikes in tertiary institutions.
She said, “The trend is responsible for non-implementation of agreements reached, thereby being one of the root causes of persistent industrial actions in the education sector.
“In order to correct this anomaly, I call on the Federal, State governments to put in place statutory collective bargaining machinery for tertiary institution sector.”
In his remarks, the factional president of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that both the NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), were currently working on a new wage demand, which would soon be presented to the Federal Government.
According to him, apart from the fact that the National Minimum Wage Act is due for review, the current purchasing power of the Naira is making the N18,000 minimum wage unsustainable.