For Kaigama and TUC, labour must engage system to ensure workers’ welfare

 

In the life of any individual or organisation, a time comes for stock taking of events and trends that define its existence. On such occasion, truth is spoken to issues and solutions to seeming problems and difficulties proffered. 

For the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the 10th Triennial National Delegates Conference provided its delegates with such opportunity and the President,

Bobboi Bala Kaigama used the occasion of the conference to dissect the problems plaguing the country, particularly, the workers.

The one and half hour long speech delivered to members at the event touched  on all aspects of the nation’s life. Flanked by other members of the executive  council, Kaigama not only identified the problems, he also proffered solutions  to them.

Addressing delegates from the affiliate unions who were present at the conference whose theme was “Labour and National Re-orientation: The  Change we want”, he lamented the sorry state of the Nigerian economy, saying  at the end, he was hopeful that appropriate signals would have been sent to all quarters that the country was on course.

Appraising the prevailing economy, Kaigama stated, “Presently the economy of  the country is in a very bad shape. We are in a period of stagflation with its  attendant slow economic growth, high unemployment and rising prices. The country’s currency, the Naira is in a free fall.”

He stated that the problems are even more compounded by the problem of insecurity across the country. “There is insecurity posed by Boko Haram insurgents, problem of herdsmen and Niger Delta militants, and a host of other  ills bedevilling the Country.”

Waxing optimistic, he stated that “In spite of all these challenges, however, we cannot afford to give up the struggle. Fortunately what I see in your eyes is hope coupled with signals of a brighter future for our unborn generations. We will surely get there.”

Kaigama further revved the patriot zeal of members when he urged them to follow the heroic examples left behind by the activists and trade unionists that utilised the platform provide by the TUC to champion the cause of the downtrodden.

“We must note that the quality of leaders we choose today will either make or  mar the lofty structure that icons and comrades like the Engr. Femi Kilas, S.A.O. Sowemimos, Aliyu Ohindases, Shina Luwoyes, Peace Obiajulus and Peter Eseles  of this world had built. I therefore charge you all to shun personal interest and vote wisely.” He said.

He stated that though the problem of protecting members has always met with bottlenecks posed by the over-bearing attitudes of some employers and failure of successive regimes in the Labour Ministry, he said, “We nonetheless hope the clogs in the wheels of industrial harmony will be eradicated by the government of the day in the overall interest of the Country.”

The problems notwithstanding, he said, the congress is engaged in a number of  things to bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians. “Between the last Delegates’

Conference and now, we have fought and won a number of battles with some recalcitrant employers. These successes have led to an increase in the number of affiliates of TUC.”

Some of the achievements he said he had recorded was joining forces with the  NLC and civil society allies to force the immediate past government to reduce the price of PMS from N141 to N97/litre.

“We also kicked against the imposition of electricity tariff by the DISCOs,  GENCOs and their collaborators. We equally protested the undue delay in the passage of 2016 National Budget.

“The recent hike in price of PMS from N86.50 to N145 per litre was vehemently opposed by the congress before the government agreed to set up a committee to introduce needed palliatives to cushion the effect of the increase.” He said.

He later went into the nitty gritty of the speech to do a comprehensive appraisal of the state of the nation.

On the state of the nation, he said, “The country has all it takes to be great and  even make neighbouring countries fantastically great. It is however bad that only few people are enjoying the Country’s bounties. Our politics to say the  least is very strange, crude, and full of vendetta.

“No wonder it has been producing insecurity, poverty, money laundering and a host of other societal ills. Our economic indicators are in a sorry state and the economy upside down because the system has not allowed the right kind of  people to emerge. Our political elites use our collective wealth to build private universities and other academic institutions while the public ones are under-funded.”

While canvassing for the setting up of a vibrant and experienced economic team made up of technocrats to analyse our economic challenges and proffer lasting solutions, he lamented that several countries that were at par with Nigeria in terms of developmental indices have left it behind.

“But for inept leadership and unbridled quest for the mundane we would have been at par with these countries.” He said.

According to Kaigama the country has never witnessed the current level insecurity which not only threatens the developmental projections of the country, he said Nigerians now sleep with one eye open leading to increase in high blood pressure and thousands of untimely deaths.

“No one really feels safe anymore in our once peaceful country,” he lamented, saying the scourge is further accentuated by growing youth involvement in crime and criminality.

Commenting on the situation in the civil service, Kaigama said there are some outstanding labour issues yet to be resolved in the federal ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs). “We want the Federal Government to critically look at these issues and resolve them quickly in the interest of  Industrial peace and harmony in the public service.”

While canvassing for staff welfare in the various laments illegal recruitment into the civil service, he stated that it was becoming worrisome, the increasing  cases of illegal recruitment in the Public Service.

“All manners of people are being brought into the service without following the due process. The Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) is the chief culprit in this regard as it has lost touch with its oversight functions.” He said.

Turning his attention to the banking sector, Kaigama minced no words when he talked about sharp practices, saying “We are worried that most banks are still cutting corners in spite of the myriads of reforms that have taken place in  that sector. We blame the regulatory agencies for not doing enough to check these un-ethical practices.

“The trend has been that of trading blames and sacking workers at the slightest excuse without observing due process and adhering to regulations governing such act.”

Reviewing developments in the energy sector, he said, “There appears to be a gang up in the power sector to further bring untold hardship to the masses even without providing us with power.”

He went further to warn “The DISCOs and GENCOs and some unseen forces should be very careful not to incur the wrath of Nigerians because of their crazy bills and unilaterally increased tariff without any corresponding  improvement in power supply.”

Kaigama stated that perhaps the sector most affected by the collapse of the economy is textile sector. “From over five hundred thousand direct jobs and over a million indirect jobs in the 80s, it can hardly boast of twenty thousand jobs today. Apart from the infrastructure challenge, there is also the challenge  of influx of foreign fabrics. Nigeria has the market but foreigners are the ones enjoying the benefits.”

He lamented that “During the 1999 to 2007 tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, a bail-out programme was initiated for the textile sector.

Unfortunately the programme did not achieve much because of a number of factors.” He rounded his speech by saying that the TUC would always champion the welfare of its members as well as Nigerians

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