ADDRESS BY COMRADE AYUBA WABBA, mni, PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) ON BEHALF OF ORGANIZED LABOUR ON PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI‘S RE-ELECTION
On behalf of organized Labour in Nigeria and by extension the entire working people of Nigeria I wish to congratulate you on your re-election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We pray that God will give you abundant wisdom, good health and protection as you pilot the affairs of our great country in the next four years.
Mr President, as you are fully aware, government and labour are primarily partners in progress. The success of Government is linked to its Workers. And the success of workers is linked to Government.
As a pan Nigerian organization, our members are large and widespread. We are in every nook and cranny of Nigeria working in every sector both the public and private sectors of our economy.
Like you Mr President, our organisation focuses on the interests of the silent majority. Globally, you are recognised as a pro-people, pro-poor leader and pro-workers.
We all remember the special bailout, paris club refund and budget support package you introduced to support State Governments during the recession. Your directive during this intervention was state governments must offset accumulated arrears of salaries and pension liabilities. I remember your publicly and openly asked state governors, “how do you manage to sleep at night when the salaries of workers in your state are not paid?”
For us, that was one of the finest moments we have had with any President in this country. Your Excellency, I can stand here today and say your intervention was the difference between life and death for many workers.
We also commend you for paying off the pension and accumulated entitlements of disengaged staff of Nigeria Airways and many other pensioners whose pension had been left to accumulate by successive governments. Despite the recession, you did the right thing.
We urge that in this your second term in office, you should continue to make the Nigerian people especially the Nigerian poor the centre-piece of your policy initiatives and actions.
You have pushed economic diversification programs. You have introduced steady and sustainable reform programs in the public sector such as the treasury single account. You have executed various counter insurgency programs that have restored peace and stability in conflict areas. I am from the North East Mr President. I have seen this first hand. I know how things were merely 5 years ago.
Mr President, many people in Nigeria will never know your direct involvement in our minimum wage discussions. I recall our meeting at night in your residence on this matter. We have seen first-hand your desire to be fair to the workers while confronting the realities of a struggling economy with facing cashflow challenges.
I also remember how you mention your anti-corruption agenda and the need to institutionalise reforms that will ensure public funds are spent on the public.
In many more ways, we – organized labour – share common priorities on the anti-corruption fight. You will recall that the Organized Labour was the first mass-based organization to organize a good governance and anti-corruption rally shortly after your inauguration in 2015.
We are partners with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) with the goal of enhancing public awareness and support for the anti-corruption fight.
Mr President, as you plan for the next four years, we would like to bring to your attention, suggestions on key areas of focus for your kind consideration Sir.
- Employment Generation especially for the Youth unemployment
- Provision of affordable power across the county
- Reactivation and upgrading of refineries and pipeline infrastructure
- Continued Diversification of the Economy through Agriculture:
- Increased funding of agricultural research and development
- Upgrading our hospitals and academic institutions
- revitalizing the public service, and the need to revisit the tenure policy which has made our public service top-heavy resulting in indiscipline and stagnation.
We will submit a detailed white paper on these subjects for your detailed review.
Your Excellency, organized labour remain committed partners in national progress, peace and stability. We urge government to continue engaging us in nation-building. We must consolidate on our successes of the past 4 years by strengthening the relationship between Government and the organized labour.
As a first step Sir, we would like to suggest that the boards of the following critical labour market institutions are inaugurated:
- National Pension Commission (Pencom) – The inauguration is being delayed by the Senate
- National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF)
- Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies
- National Labour Advisory Council
These institutions are key pillars in labour – government relations. The activation of the boards will surely ensure our successes to date are taken to the NEXT LEVEL. Please be rest assured we are ready and willing to do our bit.
We also want to use this opportunity to thank the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and Mr. President’s Chief of Staff for promoting industrial peace and harmony through facilitation of social dialogue.
Finally Mr President, the national assembly will be returning soon from their recess. We expect that they will earnestly pass the new National Minimum Wage Act. We pray that you sign it into law within the shortest possible time.
While we wish you good health, long life, and increased impact cum success in your second term in office, we remain your veritable partner in progress!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
President, NLC and ITUC
7TH March 2019