By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, yesterday pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, to set up an independent team to monitor how the state governments will disburse the 50 percent Paris Club refund money to the 36 states Governors to enable them pay salary and pension arrears before Christmas.
The union which warned that Organised Labour would no longer tolerate any further diversion of funds meant for the payment of workers and pensioners’ entitlements, insisted that where cases of diversion were established, the affected governors should be sanctioned.
NUPENG in a statement by its President, Igwe Achese, said “We commend Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari for the release of the 50 percent Paris Club debt refund to the 36 state governors to enable them pay salary arrears before Christmas. It is a good policy direction to end the sufferings of workers and pensioners in 21 states where they are owed out of the 36 states that make up the federation.
‘’But we want to warn that it will be unfair and unjustifiable for any of the governors to divert the funds to feather their nests in their 2019 re-election bid or for other political agenda.’’
‘’We are disappointed at the State Governors outbursts that President Muhammadu Buhari did not tell them to clear all salaries arrears before Christmas.’
‘’This shows the level of insincerity, and insensitivity on the plight of Nigerian Workers. We are also taken aback by the utterances of the governors that the 50 percent Paris Club balance will not be enough to offset salary arrears.”
According to the statement, “the union believes that the governors are selfish, parochial and don’t have the interest of the masses at heart by owing workers salaries for about 6 – 10 months.
The union warns that the attitude of the governors portends danger that can cause revolt and prolonged industrial crisis, if they refuse to obey President Buhari’s order to use the money to pay backlog of salaries owed.’’
We call on the President to set up an independent monitoring team to know how the State Governors spent the monies and where cases of diversion are established, the State Governors should be sanctioned.