The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has stated that the workers’ hope in the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure positive change has been undermined by his government’s failure to address infrastructural deficit in the oil sector.
This view was contained in a new year statement issued by NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
Wabba said: “For us in the Congress, and for majority of working people in Nigeria, the hope placed on the capacity of President Buhari to bring about positive change is being undermined by his government’s inability to address the infrastructural deficit in the oil industry such as making our existing refineries work to refine products for domestic consumption.
NLC added: “Not only is government unable to achieve this for almost three years now, no new infrastructure has been built in the oil industry to address this pointed challenge.
“As we approach 2019, one of the cardinal parameters by which workers, and indeed Nigerians, will assess the effectiveness or otherwise of this administration is how it will revamp the oil industry, which is the mainstay of our economy, to produce all our domestic petroleum products needs internally without resorting to importation.
Nigeria’s main labour centre also blamed the incessant fuel scarcity on the failure by the ruling elite to refine petroleum products in the country.
“For us in the Congress, our position with regard to the prevailing situation in the petroleum industry remains constant, which is that the crisis in the industry is squarely due to the inability or refusal of our ruling elite to refine all our petroleum needs in Nigeria.
“We are the only major producer of crude oil in the world that depends on importation of refined products from abroad. As long as this remains the case, Nigerians would continue to be subjected to this intermittent scarcity” NLC said.
Read the text Of NLC Statement below:
WE SHALL HOLD GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE IN THE NEW YEAR
Being the text of the New Year message of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni.
On behalf of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress, I wish to congratulate Nigerian working people for their resilience in surviving and pulling through the Year 2017, which proved to be one of the most difficult for most Nigerians in recent history.
The previous year saw the working people and other Nigerians facing series of daunting socio-economic and security challenges, even though we had hoped that the year would offer succour for the masses of the people.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATION OF WORKERS
The deplorable economic situation in the outgone year is aptly captured by the statistics recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which indicated that over 4 million Nigerians lost their jobs in 2017. Against the background of the campaign promise of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government to create three million jobs annually, this statistics from the NBS underscores the grave and depressing situation of the Nigerian economic landscape in 2017.
Rather than work to create jobs and improve the condition of Nigerian working people and Nigerians in general, leading elements in the ruling APC government, like Governor Nasir el-Rufai, have been taking measures to further chastise and ruin Nigerians by throwing tens of thousands of workers into the already saturated unemployment market and wretchedness.
In the same vein, despite the huge revenue that the states have gotten via the Federal Government intervention funds to clear arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions in many states of the federation, coupled with additional payment of three tranches of (windfall) Paris Club debt refunds; states like Kogi, Osun, Benue, Ekiti, Bayelsa and several others entered 2018 with huge arrears spanning up to ten (10) or more months of wages and pensions.
Under these conditions, Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families remained the most despondent group in an economy that even the well-to-do are groaning and struggling to survive.
FUEL SCARCITY AND THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY
In the last three weeks, Nigerians have witnessed one of the worst shortages in the supply of petrol in the history of the country. This is in spite of Federal Government’s repeated claim that with the complete removal of subsidy on petroleum products, scarcity of petroleum products would become a thing of the past.
We have therefore in the last few weeks watched with dismay the unfortunate blamegame, accusations and counter accusations between petroleum marketers – Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) –and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on who is responsible for the current scarcity.
For us in the Congress, our position with regard to the prevailing situation in the petroleum industry remains constant, which is that the crisis in the industry is squarely due to the inability or refusal of our ruling elite to REFINE ALL OUR PETROLEUM NEEDS IN NIGERIA. We are the only major producer of crude oil in the world that depends on importation of refined products from abroad. As long as this remains the case, Nigerians would continue to be subjected to this intermittent scarcity.
We had explicitly stated this fact in our 188-page “Report of the NLC Committee on Deregulation”, submitted to the Yar’Adua government in 2010 (copies of which we gave to top officials of this administration on inception). We wish to note that this report was a product of consultations with key stakeholders in Nigeria – from the Governors Forum (then under the chairmanship of Dr. Bukola Saraki as Governor of Kwara State, now the current Senate President), NNPC, Ministry of Finance, Major Markers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and CSOs, among others.
It was on the basis of the above conviction that the Congress went on national strike in May 2016, following the 66% increase from N86.50 per litre to N145 per litre, in the price of petrol by the current government in the name of total removal of subsidy.
For us in the Congress, and for majority of working people in Nigeria, the hope placed on the capacity of President Buhari to bring about positive change is being undermined by his government’s inability to address the infrastructural deficit in the oil industry such as making our existing refineries work to refine products for domestic consumption. Not only is government unable to achieve this for almost three years now, no new infrastructure has been built in the oil industry to address this pointed challenge.
As we approach 2019, one of the cardinal parameters by which workers, and indeed Nigerians, will assess the effectiveness or otherwise of this administration is how it will revamp the oil industry, which is the mainstay of our economy, to produce all our domestic petroleum products needs internally without resorting to importation.
NEW NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
Following the recent inauguration of the tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee by President Buhari, it is the expectation of Nigerian workers that the committee under the chairmanship of Ms Ama Pepple, former Head of Service of the Federation, will expeditiously conclude its assignment. This is because a new national minimum wage has been due for over a year now.
It is also our expectation that upon completion of negotiations, the National Assembly will give the executive bill that will emerge accelerated passage for the new national minimum wage to become a reality before the end of the 3rdquarter of 2018.
NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES AND PENSIONS TO WORKERS AND PENSIONERS
We noted earlier that we entered into the New Year with several states owing workers arrears of several months of salaries and pensions. We wish to re-state our determination to continue to mobilise for the full payment of these outstanding salaries and pensions.
As we approach the 2019 general elections, workers will certainly not forget governors or political parties that subjected them to untold hardship by refusal to pay their earned entitlements on the excuse of scarcity of resources while choosing to pay themselves, their political appointees and cronies huge packages.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY
Congress appreciates the recent passage of three core bills on Local Government autonomy in Nigeria by the National Assembly. It is our belief that the passage of the constitutional amendment to guarantee Local Government autonomy will promote good governance and deepen democratic culture at the grassroots level.
We therefore call on the State Houses of Assembly to demonstrate courage, patriotism and assert their desired independence by passing these constitutional amendment bills designed towards emancipating our local governments and freeing their finances from being usurped by governors who are determined to truncate the quest for local government autonomy.
In the same vein, we call on the National Assembly to ensure that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries is put on first line charge of the Federation Account to assuage the fears of all stakeholders in the local government system.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE
Over the years, the Congress has advocated for good governance as a basis for sustainable development of our country. We have in similar tone campaigned against corruption in our body politic, as this malady has remained the greatest impediment to our quest for national development.
We believe that the historic victory and ascendancy of the APC to power was rooted on the popular belief in the personal integrity and anti-corruption pedigree of President Buhari. As we move into 2018, our expectation is that the executive arm of government under President Buhari would push for the implementation of key anti-corruption protocols and good governance principles in our public and private institutions.
In the same vein, we call on the government to increase the tempo of the fight against corruption in a way that is fair, just and all encompassing.
GOVERNOR NASIR EL-RUFAI’S DRACONIAN GOVERNMENT IN KADUNA STATE
We wish to once again draw the attention the Presidency and Nigerians in general to the ongoing draconian leadership of the Kaduna State government under MallamNasir el-Rufa as governor.
A couple of months ago, Governor el-Rufai by administrative fiat dismissed over 22,000 primary school teachers in the state under the excuse that they failed to pass assessment tests that the authorised teaching regulatory body did not conduct. Similarly, el-Rufai equally sacked over 4,500 local government employees in the state.
Despite the wise counsel of well-meaning Nigerians and protestations from the Congress, including an injunction from the National Industrial Court (NIC) which had ruled that the statusquo should be maintained till the determination of the substantive suit brought before it by the unjustly dismissed workers and unions in Kaduna State, Governor el-Rufai, like all despots before him, hasremained adamant.
Last Friday, 29th December, 2017, Governor el-Rufai authorised Education Secretaries (and relevant local government authorities) to commence the distribution of sack letters to teachers and local government workers in the 23 local government areas of the state beginning from Tuesday, 2nd January, 2018.
While some state governments are struggling to devise ways of bringing succour to workers and the people generally in the New Year, Governor el-Rufai’s Christmas and New Year gift to the working people of Kaduna State and their families is Tears and Sorrow.
The Congress under this atmosphere of disregard for the rule of law and decency is left with no other option than to use all legitimate means to challenge the crass impunity and despotism being displayed by Governorel-Rufai.It will therefore give effect to the Congress National Executive Council (NEC) decision to observe January 11, 2018 as a day of solidarity with the workers of Kaduna State, and shall mobilise Nigerian workers to march for the reversion of the sacked workers in Kaduna City.
GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE STATE OF THE NATION
We note the positive sides of 2017, which included the fact that we statistically moved out of recession in the course of the year; the continuing fight against corruption, improvement in the security situation and tremendous progress in agricultural yields; in addition to efforts to implement the macro-economic recovery programme.
The above indicators notwithstanding, the Boko Haram insurgency still poses challenges to our gallant armed forces; herdsmen/peasant farmers’ clashes remain significant threats to peaceful co-existence of our people in many states of the federation, while the energy situation, despite the slight improvements in recent times also still presents considerable obstacle to the wellbeing of millions of Nigerian consumers – industrialists and small and medium business operators alike.
We call on the federal government to therefore take further bold measures to address the above mentioned challenges to enhance an improved situation in these areas in 2018.
We wish Nigerians, especially workers, a fruitful New Year!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni