‘Address Nigeria’s Economic Crisis And Stop Focusing On Political Calculations’ – NLC Slams Tinubu

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has criticized President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over his recent comment on labour unions.

In a statement issued on Friday (today), the NLC said the Nigerian leader is only concerned with future political calculations instead of directing his efforts to address pressing challenges in the country.

Naija News reported earlier that during the inauguration of the Lagos Red Line Project in Lagos on Thursday, President Tinubu took a swipe at the Labour unions, urging them to cease their protests and maintain peace, emphasizing that they are not the sole voice for Nigerians.

He advised the Labour unions to wait until 2027 if they wish to participate in the electoral process.

However, in a statement released today, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, responded by stating that they are not interested in Tinubu’s position, but rather, they demand the implementation of all agreements reached between the Labour unions and the Federal Government following the removal of fuel subsidy.

Ajaero expressed that the NLC finds the President’s remarks, particularly those regarding the role of Labour in governance, to be significantly different from the challenges faced by ordinary Nigerians under current policies.

The statement reads: “It is regrettable that the President seems oblivious of the profound hardships endured by millions of Nigerians. The pervasive hunger, unemployment, housing insecurity, and escalating costs of basic necessities such as food and healthcare demand immediate attention and decisive action. Yet, instead of addressing these pressing concerns, President Tinubu appears preoccupied with political calculations and future electoral prospects.

“The NLC wishes to emphasize that our primary objective is not to vie for political positions, including that of the President. Rather, our sole focus is on advocating for effective governance that prioritizes the welfare and security of all Nigerians. We urge President Tinubu to redirect his efforts towards fulfilling this fundamental duty of public office, rather than engaging in political rhetoric.

“It is imperative that we refocus our collective energy on addressing the substantive issues that have been the subject of engagement between Labour and the government since June 2023. These include critical matters such as wage increases, social welfare programs, infrastructure development, and the revitalization of key sectors such as education and healthcare.

“In any case to avoid the dissipation of energy, it is important that we focus on the real issues because we have engaged the government since June 2023 after the subsidy is gone statement. The issues are around the non-implementation of agreements reached between us and the government.

“For example; on June 5, 2023 after the hike in the Price of PMS, the following agreements were reached between us and the Government viz; Review Proposal for Wage Increase and Award including framework for timing and implementation

“Review the program of Cash Transfer and propose inclusion of low-income earners in the program; Review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation; Revive the CNG conversion program; Review the framework for the completion of rehabilitation work on the Nation’s refineries; Review framework for the maintenance of Roads and expansion of Rail networks across the country

“Mr. President, these agreements were reached but the Committee that was saddled with working on these was never inaugurated and none of them was implemented until we were forced to organize a nationwide rally while the president gave his personal commitment. However, Mr. President, nothing came out of your promises.

“It took another round of protests for the October 2, 2023 agreement to be reached. We outline the agreement below so that your government will tell Nigerians which one it has been able to implement. They are; The first item on the Agreement is the N35,000 Wage Award; Port Harcourt Refinery will come on stream by December, 2023; 25,000 cash transfers to 15 million poor household would be implemented; Tax waivers for workers, small businesses and general public.

“Government interference in the internal affairs of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and RTEAN to be stopped; The agreement will be deposited as settlement with the Court by Government; That CNG buses and 55,000 conversion kits will be provided; All parties shall henceforth commit to the use of social dialogue in all of our engagements; The National Minimum Wage Committee to be set up immediately; Outstanding Wages and Salaries for Tertiary Education workers in all federally – owned educational institutions to be paid; States and Private sectors to be compelled by the federal government to give Wage Award to workers; Fertilizer initiative to farmers across the nation; Provision of funds for MSMEs across the nation; Visitation to the Refinery to monitor completion of the PH refinery.

“Once again Mr. President, these are the issues and not election or perhaps seeking to take over your job. We would want Mr. President to show us the items his government has implemented in this agreement. Perhaps, the Government wants to tell Nigerians that we do not have right to ask that it complies with the agreement it willingly reached with us?

“But beside all these, in the two MoUs signed with this government on the 5th of June and October 2nd 2023, which item has his government implemented beside rhetoric. The first MoU has seven items while the second has 15 items. It has been a chain of broken promises not only to Labour but to hungry Nigerians

“President Tinubu’s administration must be held accountable for the commitments made in previous agreements with Labour. It is disheartening to note the apparent lack of progress in implementing these agreements, despite repeated assurances from the government. Nigerians deserve transparency and tangible results, not empty promises and bureaucratic delays.

“Furthermore, the use of divisive language and veiled threats against Labour by President Tinubu is unacceptable. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to foster constructive dialogue and collaboration in addressing the myriad challenges facing our nation. Violence and intimidation have no place in a democratic society, and any attempts to suppress dissent will only exacerbate tensions and undermine our collective efforts towards progress and prosperity.

“Finally, the NLC reiterates its unwavering commitment to championing the interests of Nigerian workers and the broader populace. We call upon President Tinubu to heed the voices of ordinary Nigerians, prioritize governance over politics, and take meaningful steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.”

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