The Communique of the Central Working Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress
A meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took place on April 9, 2019 at the Pascal Bafyau Labour House Auditorium. The CWC comprises the Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions of the Congress and members of the National Administrative Council (NAC).
The Central Working Committee (CWC) apprised members of the passage of the new National Minimum Wage (2019) Amendment bill by the two chambers of the National Assembly and transmission of the bill to Mr. President for assent; preparations for the 2019 May Day Celebration; Congress State Council Delegates Conferences scheduled for 25th April 2019; preparations for the ILO centenary; the 2019 general elections and expectations of the citizenry; rising security challenges across the land and other issues of national importance.
a) The CWC commended the National Assembly for passing the bill for a new national minimum wage of N30,000. The CWC also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to expeditiously assent to the bill;
b) The CWC considered preparations for the 2019 May Day especially in light of the celebration of the Centenary of the International Labour Organization (ILO) this year and the contribution of the ILO to the advancement of workers’ interest in Nigeria and across the globe;
c) The CWC was perturbed at the return of long queues at petrol stations in many cities of Nigeria. The CWC believes that the current spate of panic buying was induced by the so-called advice by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Federal Government of Nigeria should stop subsidizing refined petroleum products particularly the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). Unfortunately, what the IMF means by subsidy removal is an increase in the pump price of refined petroleum products which will be largely borne by our downtrodden masses.
The CWC noted that the intervention of the IMF in Nigeria has historically been about three issues – the removal of the so-called “petrol subsidy”, the devaluation of the Naira and the relaxation of Nigeria’s borders to allow the influx of foreign goods into the country. The CWC observed that the afore-mentioned three economic prescriptions by the IMF do not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart as they are tailored at further impoverishing the Nigerian masses. A permanent solution to the reoccurring subsidy debates is to muster the political will to refine for domestic use and stop importation regime and lack of transparency associated with it;
d)The CWC reviewed the 2019 general elections taking into consideration the glitches that nearly marred the polls especially the unprecedented incidences of inconclusive gubernatorial and legislative elections.
The CWC also expressed concern on the persistence of hate speech, vote buying, ballot box snatching, falsification of election results, abuse of manual accreditation, logistics tardiness by INEC; and
e) The CWC appraised the security situation in the country and expressed deep concerns about the killings in Kaduna, Borno, Zamfara, Benue, Enugu, and Katsina States and the escalating wave of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and militancy in different parts of Nigeria.
a) The CWC urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the N30,000 national minimum wage bill without further delay and ensure its speedy implementation;
b) The CWC rejected any move to deny workers the benefit of the new national minimum wage through increase in Value Added Tax (VAT). It was the view of the CWC that increase in VAT would not only further impoverish Nigerian workers but would also deeply hurt the national economy. The CWC urged government to look inwards for progressive and sustainable ways of funding the 2019 budget including cutting down on the cost of governance, curbing official graft and expanding the tax net through proper taxation of the rich and luxury items.
c) The CWC congratulated the International Labour Organization on this year’s celebration of its Centenary. The CWC commended the ILO for championing Tripartism, and Social Justice in the World of Work. As part of the 2019 May Day preparations, the CWC resolved to reflect the contributions of ILO to the global solidarity movement in the theme and programme for this year’s May Day celebration by the NLC;
d) In the spirit of international trade union solidarity, the CWC also approved the plans by the Labour Movement to host the 2019 Delegates Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation, African region (ITUC-Africa) and the Cuban Africa Solidarity Conference, all scheduled to hold later in the year in Abuja, Nigeria;
e) The CWC condemned the emerging long fuel lines at our petrol stations and urged government to take every necessary step to stop another episode of petrol scarcity. The CWC also reiterated the historical position of the NLC on the issue of fuel price increase.
While decrying the fact that Nigeria is the only OPEC country still importing refined petroleum products, the CWC noted that the chronic crises of “petrol subsidy” as primarily fueled by constant devaluation of the Naira and fluctuation of the international price of crude oil can only be permanently solved by ensuring that our local refineries work optimally. The CWC posited categorically that there is nothing wrong with our four refineries as they could be upgraded to produce sufficient refined products to meet our local needs and even for export;
f) The CWC condemned incidences of hate speech, vote buying, ballot box snatching, abuse of provisions for manual accreditation, logistics tardiness and isolated cases of violence in the just concluded 2019 general election. The CWC particularly decried the inconclusive elections that trailed the 2019 general election describing it as an ill wind that threatens the consolidation and advancement of democracy in Nigeria. Thus, CWC calls for the setting up of an electoral offences commission;
g) The CWC described as unacceptable the deteriorating security situation in the country especially as marked by the upsurge in terrorist insurgency, banditry, herdsmen attacks, kidnap for ransom, militancy and communal clashes across the country. The CWC called on government to accord top priority to the security of lives and property which is the primary purpose of government. The CWC called for a robust and sustainable response to renewed security challenges even if that means an increase in the budget for internal security so long it is judiciously and transparently used.
The CWC condoled with Nigerians who have suffered losses as a result of the recent upsurge in crime, unrests and violence in different parts of the country especially in Zamfara and Kaduna States;
h) The CWC decried the continuous exploitation of electricity consumer by Discos through estimated billing. The CWC went on to call on government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s power sector and take necessary steps to arrest the situation, ordering the reversal of the privatization exercise in the power sector. The CWC also condemned the continued refusal by many DISCOs to supply prepaid meters to electricity consumers in the country describing the use of estimated billing as daylight robbery of poor workers and citizens. The CWC re-affirmed the commitment of Congress to picket NERC for failing in its regulatory duty and also DISCOs that have refused to obey Nigeria’s laws and court processes against estimated billing of electricity consumers in Nigeria;
i) The CWC congratulated all the political office holders, both in the executive and legislative arms of government, elected during the 2019 Nigeria’s general elections. The CWC urged political leaders at all levels of government to re-dedicate themselves to the task of governance by being pro-people, pro- poor, more sensitive and transparently inclusive in their approach to governance. The CWC also urged elected politicians to strive towards fulfilling promises made to Nigerians in the course of their political campaigns in the run up to the 2019 general election;
j) The CWC noted with excitement the resolution of the crisis in the Agriculture Union following the agreement reached between the feuding factions to merge under a new name – the Nigeria Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees (NUAAE). The CWC also lauded the resolution of the factions to withdraw all pending cases in court and to go into the forthcoming April 25, 2019 NLC State Council elections with a single consolidated list of delegates.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson
President General Secretary
9th April, 2019