Buhari assures on provision of social infrastructure, N30,000 new minimum wage

…As Labour chiefs pleads with Atiku, others not to overheat polity
… Vall for scrapping of Service Wide Vote

KEHINDE AKINTOLA

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday of his administration’s resolve towards full implementation the N30,000 new minimum wage.

Buhari was represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the May Day celebration held in Abuja, where workers from the Presidential Villa, State House who participated at the match past, demanded for the payment of the new minimum wage.

The workers who displayed a banner with inscription: ‘Nigerian workers deserve a living wage’, however declined to speak further on their demand.

Other inscription displayed by various unions read: ‘Government, respect court order on staff schools,’ ‘Mr. President pay our outstanding salary arrears now’, ‘Next level: Stop the killings and kidnapping, provide security,’ ‘Implement cotton, textile and garment policy, reopen textile and garment industries’, ‘The poor still crying, banish poverty’, ‘Arise o compatriots, patronise Nigerian made products’, ‘Next level: Let there be light, end darkness’s, ‘Stop gender based violence at work, support an ILO convention and recommendations’, ‘Next level: Arise o compatriots, Let there be jobs for all’s,’ ‘US hands off Venezuela, no war on’, ‘EU put more value on human freedom than fish and phosphates’, ‘No to Morocco’s occupying West Saharan’, ‘We demand referendum for self determination and independence of Western Sahara’, among others.

While thanking Nigerians for the overwhelming support towards his re-election bid during the 2019 Presidential election, Buhari said: “we shall reciprocate the electoral gesture by focusing on things that will improve on the standard of living of the Nigerian masses.”
“At the just concluded general elections, Nigerians and indeed Nigerian Workers gave our administration another mandate to govern them. We shall reciprocate this electoral gesture by focusing on the critical issues that will advance speedily and improve the quality of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians.

“These include the building of infrastructure, roads, and rail, hydroelectric power, and also reforming key driving sectors of the national economy in order to put the country on a sustainable path of economic growth and prosperity.

“We are especially committed to changing the narrative in the power sector. Today that sector, after it was privatized, still remains challenged in delivering power to many Nigerian homes and businesses. We must work as a matter of national importance and we are committed to doing so, to rework and re-engineer the sector for much more effective performance,” Mr. President assured

Meanwhile, the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) who spoke at the May Day Rally, congratulated President Buhari and all the newly elected political office holders at the 2019 general elections, urged aggrieved politicians to resort to judicial process rather than heating the polity.
“While acknowledging the difficulties associated with the 2019 general elections, we congratulate all those elected into public political offices during the last polls.

“We call on political leaders at all levels of government to re-dedicate themselves to the task of governance by demonstrating genuine empathy and affinity to the suffering of the Nigerian people.

“We urge all elected political office holders to fulfil the promises they made to Nigerians. We implore those whose political aspirations were not realized at the last elections to demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship.

“We also urge those who feel cheated at the 2019 polls not to overheat the polity but to engage the judicial process for justice,” Ayuba Wabba, NLC President urged.

The two Labour centres who applauded the courage, resilience and patriotism of Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families who have continued to endure the profligacy and profanity of an unrepentant ruling class, however affirmed that: “Our fists struck in collective commitment to the struggle are sufficient to achieve the social justice we all desire.”

While reflecting on the state of the economy, Wabba observed that: “despite promising nature of Nigeria’s economy, our economy is yet to be weaned from import dependency. Our economy remains essentially rent seeking, subsistence, non-inclusive, vulnerable to shocks from the global commodities market, fraught to unwieldy inflationary trends and unable to create sustainable mass jobs.

“Despite the best efforts of government to diversify the economy, attract foreign direct investment, increase our foreign exchange revenue and create more jobs, these efforts are being frustrated by systemic challenges. These challenges include endemic corruption, institutional chaos, crises in our social sector, and disabling physical infrastructure – electricity supply, water, rail system, road network, inland waterways transportation etc.”

He further argued that the double digits inflation on all items (year on change) had dropped from 11.44% in December 2018 to around 11.25% in March 2019, has negatively impacted on the purchasing power of Nigerian workers.

“Yet, the unofficial reality shows that life is becoming increasingly excruciating today for the average worker and citizens. The phenomenal hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as ‘fuel’, or ‘petrol’ in 2016, the devaluation of the Naira in the same year and increase in the cost of electricity in the past five years have sustained high inflationary rates.

“The persistence of double-digit inflation and stagnant remuneration for workers has almost wiped off the purchasing power of Nigerian workers,” the NLC President stressed.

In the bid to industrialised the nation’s mono-product economy and address the increasing unemployment rate which currently stands at 43%, the Labour chiefs also urged President Buhari’s administration as a matter of urgency, “emulate the tested and proven prototypes elsewhere in places as Singapore, Argentina, Brazil, India and China to attract relevant production lines and labour-intensive industries to Nigeria.

“This would help to engage the teeming population of our country in industrial production, build the skills of Nigerians and place Nigeria in a progressive manufacturing trajectory.

“Similarly, government should provide practical incentives and support to encourage large scale industries to develop networks of SMEs to be part of their production networks and supply chains. This is the most viable way to promote horizontal integration.”

The Labour movement also urged Buhari’s administration to scrap “Service-wide votes as they encourage arbitrariness, undue discretion, and abuse of public financial management tools by dishonest public officials.

“Furthermore, the release of capital budgets should be tied to performance based on job certification. This is a fundamental way of tackling official graft and ending the regime of arbitrariness and indiscretion in public finance management.”

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