*** Set Up a 7- Member Committee to Meet with National Economic Council, NLC, Others

*** As Governors Kick over deductions from the Federation Allocation of the 774 local governments of the country to construct and equip healthcare centres

*** Constitute Governor Fayemi Led Committee to brainstorm with Buhari, FG, Others on the matter

Exercise Caution, Going on Strike will Worsen the Deteriorating Economic Situation, Governors to NLC

By Henry Umoru

THE thirty- six State Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF have called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC to exercise caution in its planned nationwide strike and mass protest, warning that such an action if carried out, would worsen the deteriorating economic situation of the country brought by Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.

Rising from the 18th Teleconference Emergency Meeting, the governors have set up a seven-member Committee to brainstorm with the National Economic Council, NEC, the Nigeria Labour, NLC, major Stakeholders and other Nigerians with a bid to addressing the issue.

The Committee which is chaired by the Jigawa State governor, Badaru Abubakar, has governors Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun; Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara; Muhammad Inuwa of Gombe; Okezie Victor Ikpeazu of Abia and Douye Diri of Bayelsa as members.

In a Communique signed at the end of the emergency meeting by the NGF Vice Chairman and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the forum resolved that the NGF Secretariat will provide relevant support to the Committee on the details of the mechanism for deregulation put in place by the federal government.

The governors said that “On the call for national strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Forum believes that the labour unions should exercise caution on the call for strike action, noting that any strike action will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country brought by the COVID-19 pandemic;

“While expressing concern over the call for national strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Forum members suggested the provision of a cushioning arrangement to ameliorate the effect of subsidy removal.”

The Governors have also agreed to hold an Emergency NEC meeting as soon as the Committee comes up with a common position on the deregulation of both the petroleum and power sectors and the figures laid bare for all to peruse and then take a common position.

At the meeting, the Governors also expressed serious concern over deductions from the Federation Allocation of the 774 local governments of the country to construct and equip healthcare centres in each local government area on behalf of the Association of Local Government Areas of Nigeria (ALGON).

Consequently, the Forum constituted a Committee made up of Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi as Chairman, with Governors David Umahi of Ebonyi; Simon Lalong of Plateau; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe as members to represent State and local governments on the matter.

The Committee has been saddled with the responsibility of meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the National Judicial Council and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to appeal against the judgement.

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The Communique read, ” The Emergency Meeting was convened to deliberate on two key issues – ALGON Vs FAAC: deduction of LGC statutory allocation for the construction of primary healthcare centers in each of the 774 LGAs; and the NLC & TUC call for national strike action over the recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and increase in Electricity Tariff.

“Governors expressed serious concern over deductions from the Federation Allocation of the 774 local governments of the country to construct and equip healthcare centres in each local government area on behalf of the Association of Local Government Areas of Nigeria (ALGON);

“The Forum rejected the legality and the legitimacy of the contract including all financing arrangements;

“On the call for national strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Forum believes that the labour unions should exercise caution on the call for a strike action, noting that any strike action will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country brought by the COVID-19 pandemic;

“While expressing concern over the call for national strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Forum members suggested the provision of a cushioning arrangement to ameliorate the effect of subsidy removal;

“Governors confirmed during the meeting that an Industrial Court had barred Labour from embarking on its planned industrial action but nevertheless decided to use the intervening period to mediate between the stakeholders.

“After a long and arduous deliberation on the two issues, the Forum Resolved to:1. Call on the Minister for Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation not to disburse to receiving entities monies already deducted for the construction of primary healthcare centers in each of the 774 LGAs, and that further reductions should be halted forthwith.

“Constitute a Committee comprising the Governors of Ekiti (Chairman), Ebonyi, Delta, Gombe, Plateau, and Kano States to represent State and local governments on the matter. The Committee will also approach Mr. President, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the National Judicial Council and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to appeal against the judgement;

” Intercede with the Labour Unions, the Federal Government and other stakeholders and especially call labour to exercise caution in its plan to embark on an indefinite strike action, noting that any such action will worsen the already deteriorating economic situation of the workers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic;

“Set up a Committee made up of the Governors of Jigawa (Chairman), Nasarawa, Ogun, Kwara, Gombe, Abia and Bayelsa States to interface with the National Economic Council, the Labour Unions and relevant stakeholders for the overall interest of the nation.

“The NGF Secretariat will provide relevant support to the Committee on the details of the mechanism for deregulation put in place by the federal government;

“Call for an Emergency NEC meeting as soon as the Committee comes up with a common position on the deregulation of both the petroleum and power sectors and the figures laid bare for all to see;

“Finally, members advised that any position taken by the Forum should not be seen to be contrary or injurious to the position State Governors have always maintained in support of deregulation. Governors insisted that subsidy in the petroleum sector, apart from promoting corruption in petroleum pricing and distribution, brings about loss of revenues to the three tiers of government and loss of jobs to the populace.”

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had insisted on going ahead with its earlier planned strike and protest, with effect from September 28, 2020, following what it described as failure on the part of the Federal Government to reverse the increases in electricity tariff and fuel price.

According to Labour, the hike in pump price of fuel and electricity tariff, “were ill-timed, and insensitive to the sufferings that Nigerians are going through,” calling on the government to reverse it.

Nick’s plan to embark on nationwide strike and mass protest against recent increase in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff hike was sealed on Tuesday as the highest decision making organ of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the National Executive Council, NEC, ratified the decision the Central Working Committee, CWC.

It had also directed state councils to intensify mobilization of workers and other Nigerians preparatory for the strike scheduled to start on September 28.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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