No new minimum wage, no peaceful election — Organised Labour
By Our Reporters
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerians not to re-elect governors who failed in their first terms, especially those who cannot pay civil servants salaries even after collecting bailouts from the federal government.
His entreaty came on a day leaders of organised labour and their civil society allies in a nationwide protest, warned that there might be no peaceful and hitch-free general election next month, if the issue of N30,000 national minimum wage remained unresolved.
Buhari, who is also seeking re-election on the platform of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said Nigerians’ votes should go for competence.
Speaking with the Hausa Service of Voice of America, VOA, which was aired yesterday, the President said he saw no justification in governors collecting bailout funds from the Federal Government and still failing to pay wages.
He said: “I wonder how these governors are able to sleep, knowing that they have refused to pay workers their wages. These workers have families to cater for, they pay rent, pay school fees, hospital bills and food for their families.”
He said Nigerian Constitution gave governors the independence to spend their funds without interference, stressing that was the reason some were abusing that privilege by refusing to work for the people.
President Buhari advised Nigerians to use their voting rights to ensure they voted only for people who would deliver.
No new minimum wage, no peaceful election – Organised Labour
Meanwhile, leaders of Organised Labour and their civil society allies, yesterday warned that there would be no peaceful election next month, should the Federal Government fail to resolve issues around the new minimum wage.
They also noted that the voting pattern of workers in the 2019 general elections might be skewed in favour of timely implementation of the minimum wage.
At a nationwide sensitisation and mobilisation rally, yesterday, labour leaders urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately transmit the N30,000 recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly to legislate into law to save the nation of the negative consequences of the continued delay.
The protesters insisted that the N30,000 minimum wage was not negotiable and vowed to campaign and vote against political parties and candidates opposed to the proposed minimum wage.
In Abuja, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, insisted that organised labour would not relent in its demand for the N30,000 minimum wage agreed by the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee.
Wabba said the protest was a prelude to a nationwide strike, should the authorities fail to implement the new wage.
The NLC President said government was testing the collective will of Nigerian workers who toil daily to sustain the economy by delaying the transmission of the executive wage bill to the National Assembly for passage.
Presenting the letter at FCDA, Wabba lamented that Nigerian workers were poor because they couldn’t boast of a reasonable wage as their South African or Ghanaian counterparts.
He wondered why government officials consider workers as a tiny minority when they constitute bulk of the citizens who fight for the sustenance of democracy.
Wabba said: “The rally or protest serves as a warning to the Federal Government before a nationwide strike may take place, if they continue to delay the transmission of the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.
In Lagos, leaders of the protest included Solomon Adelegan, Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Tokunbo Korodo; Lagos State Chairman of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, and Abiodun Aremu, National Secretary of Joint Action Front, JAF, the umbrella body of pro-labour civil society groups.
Addressing the protesters, Adelegan said the issue of the N30,000 new minimum wage had gone beyond negotiation stage, insisting that labour would not renege until the recommendation of the tripartite committee was passed to the National Assembly for legislation and eventual implementation.
Similarly, Korodo called on the Federal Government to immediately send a draft bill on the N30,000 minimum wage to the National Assembly to save the nation from another devastating industrial unrest and guarantee a hitch free general elections.
In Delta State, labour leaders threatened to expose and use the forthcoming general elections to punish state governors and politicians paying lip services to the implementation of the proposed N30,000 minimum wage for workers in the country.
Handing down the warning at Asaba after he led a rally to Government House where he presented a position paper to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman of the NLC in Delta State, Mr. Jonathan Jemiriegbe, said the issue of minimum wage could not be waved aside.
Similarly, in Kogi State, labour leaders, led by chairman of NLC in the state, Onuh Edoka, called on President Buhari to immediately send the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly for legislation and implementation.
While presenting the demands of workers in the state, Edoka reminded the government that workers were being owned five months for workers already cleared and between 15 and 24 months for other categories.
In Bauchi State, labour leaders, led by NLC chairman in the state, Hashimu Gital, solicited the support of all Nigerians in the agitation for upward review of the national minimum wage.
He expressed confidence that payment of the N30,000 new national minimum wage would be beneficial to workers and, indeed, all Nigerians by improving their living condition.
In the same vein, labour leaders in Ondo State demanded that President Buhari submit a bill to the parliament for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage for workers.
Led by NLC chairman in the state, Yemisi Bamgbose, the workers said the protest was about implementation and, therefore, had no link with the transmission of the bill or any political parties.
In Ogun, organised labour pleaded with Governor Ibikunle Amosun to pay N35,000 as minimum wage as the proposed N30,000 minimum wage was yet to be approved .
The labour leaders told the governor to do more than his colleagues by paying N35,000.
Also, Osun workers and their leaders stormed major streets in Osogbo to join their counterparts across the country to protest the delay in implementation of the new minimum wage by government.
Led by NLC chairman, Jacob Adekomi, the workers charged the government to begin immediate implementation of the new wage, saying anything contrary to that will mean that the government was working against the Constitution.
In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello said his administration would pay the new minimum wage if approved by the Federal Government.
The governor gave the assurance in Minna, the Niger State capital, when organised labour stormed Government House to protest the non-transmission of the bill for implementation of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 to the National Assembly for deliberation.
“I am ready to comply with the Federal Government as soon as the final nod is granted on the minimum wage,” he said.
In Kwara State, labour leaders also joined their counterparts in the country to protest the non-implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
They later presented a protest letter to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who was represented by the Head of Service, Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole.
Also in Edo State, workers and their leaders joined their counterparts from other states to protest against the non-implementation of the new minimum wage by the federal and state governments.