By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has drawn the attention of the Federal Government to current realities in the country which it said suggests that Nigerians, especially the working class cannot longer afford one good meal per day.
The labour union linked the problem to lack of good governance which has led to non payment of salaries and pensions across several states.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who made the position of the congress known at a news conference in Abuja said if was unfortunate that several states in the country have not prioritize the welfare if their workers and are owing salaries running into several months.
He disclosed that the Congress, in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) was Organising a mass rally in Lagos and Abuja to press home their demand for good governance in the country and press home their current demand for a new minimum wage.
“We thought that we should canvass for the issue of good governance because despite the Paris Club refund to some of the states, many of them has not done well in making sure that workers interest is given the priority it deserve.
“Some of the states have done their best to ensure that the liability of salaries and pensions is paid as and when due. For example, in Bauchi, about 90 percent of those funds was fund to defray salaries and pension. For now, the best example we have is the case of Jigawa where they don’t have liability of pension and salaries as well as gratuity.
“In most of the states, gratuity is building up and it is a very important component of the benefit of the worker. In some states, we have gratuity running into about 77 months.
“The worst case scenario is Imo state where gratuity and pension is in arrears of 77 months and the governor has contemplated saying those pensioners who have not earned their pension for 77 months will be paid in percentage. He proposed 60 percent which the pensioners have rejected.
“We have also tried to go to those states and see how we can assist those pensioners. This portend a lot of danger and challenge because in some states, they don’t look at payment of salaries as a priority. I remember one of the governors saying he was not elected to pay salaries.
“But he also know that his predecessor lost office because he could not pay salaries and at the time he took over, there was liability of three months which has now increased to six months.
“These are the challenges and we think that we must situate all these things in the campaign for good governance and try to see how our political elites get their priorities right.
“We realized from the data we have that it is not about how much those states earn, but how transparent the process is in those states. Some states receive less and yet don’t have liabilities of salaries and pension, while some receive so much and yet, have not given priority to the payment of salaries, pension and gratuity of workers.
“So, side by side with our quest for a review of minimum wage, it is important for us to engage the process and get the people on the same page on the issue of campaign for good governance and also the issue of corruption.