NLC Backs Buhari On 2016 Budget

 NLC Backs Buhari On 2016 Budget

Court stops NLC, TUC’s planned strike

NLC-electionThe Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Wednesday threw its weight behind the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the 2016 budget until details of the budget are transmitted to him.
The congress also warned that frequent and constant scarcity of petroleum products will not be acceptable to Labour and other Nigerians because the human and economic costs are unimaginable.
Speaking at the opening of the Central Working Committee meeting of the Congress in Abuja, President of the congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the President should be given the opportunity of studying the budget passed by the National Assembly before assenting to it.
He also said the fastest way to lose credibility before the ordinary citizenry is scarcity of petroleum products because the combined effects of scarcity of petroleum products and low power supply create misery for the people as well as have a damning impact on travel, jobs, productivity and the economy as a whole.
Comrade Wabba said while the National Assembly deserve commendation for painstakingly going through the budget and exposing the imperfections in it, the right of due diligence which the National Assembly exercised to the hilt and led to the unearthing of discrepancies in the budget should similarly be extended to Mr. President.
He said: “In spite of the initial controversy around the national budget, it has been passed by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is deserving of commendation for going through the budget with a tooth brush and for exposing the imperfections in it.
“President Buhari is equally deserving of commendation not just for the courage in expressing outrage at the criminal padding of the budget by the budget cabal but for having the single-mindedness to deal with this situation.
“The passage of the budget is expected to open or free up the economy. Our observations will not be complete without commenting on the decision of Mr. President to withhold his assent until the details on the budget are transmitted to him by the National Assembly.
“First, it is within the province of Mr. President to so do as a matter of personal style or principle. Moreover, we have had a presidential precedent. But beyond all this, it is pertinent to note that, the right of due diligence which the National Assembly exercised to the hilt and led to the unearthing of discrepancies in the budget should similarly be extended to Mr. President. Accordingly, we identify with his position that the details of the budget be first transmitted to him, in spite of the challenges this might present.”
While expressing concern over the lingering fuel crisis in the country, The NLC President said: “When the first incident of fuel scarcity occurred under this government, we put it to sabotage and urged the government to deal decisively with the saboteurs but with an eye to enhance local production as an enduring solution. When the second incident happened, we similarly reasoned the same way.
“However, with the latest incident of prolonged scarcity and confession by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that scarcity will persist till May as he is not a magician, regular scarcity might as well be a familiar feature, and we would do well to brace ourselves for long spells, except government does the needful.
“We must however make the point that spells of scarcity will not be acceptable to Labour and other Nigerians because the human and economic costs are unimaginable.
“While we appreciate government’s effort to make available on an uninterruptible basis, such effort must be seen to be result-yielding and immediate. Because of the place of petroleum products in the lives of the citizenry, it’s scarcity even for a day generates ripple and crippling effects.
“We dare say one of the fastest ways for government to lose its credibility before the ordinary citizenry is scarcity of petroleum products because the combined effects of scarcity of petroleum products and low power supply create misery for the people as well as have a damning impact on travel, jobs, productivity and the economy as a whole. We are concerned and we must similarly find a way forward.
“It is gratifying to note that government has straightened its relationship with the critical stake holders (including IPMAN) which it says will henceforth guarantee regular supply at N86 at NNPC filling stations and N86:50 at non-NNPC filling stations.
“Without prejudice to the on-going government’s initiative at finding a lasting solution, we believe subsisting fuel scarcity is caused by an interplay of corruption in the system; the existence of a cabal that defies the structural changes at NNPC; national and international politics around production, sale and consumption of oil; sabotage in the management of the refineries; award of contracts for turnaround maintenance (TAM) without regard to the companies that built these refineries and smuggling.
“Also not helpful to the system is the regular friction or power play between lifters or distributors of products such as Major Marketers, Independent Marketers, Association of Tank Farm Owners and others in the chain.
“It is worth mentioning that government institutions in the sector such DPR and PPPRA which are expected to function independently as well as regulate the system, have either been sidelined, weakened and brought under the control of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“Accordingly, we call on the government to do the needful by demonstrating the will and capacity to restore sanity, discipline and transparency to the downstream sector of the industry. The statutory roles of these agencies should be restored so they can function properly.
“Government should also deal summarily with corruption in the sector. It should never allow itself to be blackmailed or cowed into taking decisions that in the long run will not be helpful to the ordinary Nigerian.
“There are pending cases from subsidy scams inherited from the last administration. They came into limelight following our nation-wide protest against unjustifiable increase in prices of petroleum products of January 2012. Nigerians are keen to know what has become of the reported criminalities by the high and the mighty”.
The congress demand the diligent prosecution of all those found wanting in the distribution of fuel products, cold or fresh cases and the constitution of the boards of NNPC and PPPRA, adding that while the board of the PPPRA is supposed to be a 26-man board vested with powers of regulating prices of petroleum products, today, it is a one-man show.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for taking bold measures or decisions aimed at rebuilding the economy, the congress said some of these decisions include re-newing or strengthening relations with nations of worth, signing of bilateral or trilateral agreements, creating a safe haven for investment, fighting corruption, restoring internal security, tracking and recovering looted funds, resisting pressures to further devalue the Naira and other measures.
It lamented that in spite of the efforts, the Naira has continued to fall against major currencies, inflation continues to rise, commodity prices mount, while the productive sector has continued to shrink with more loss of jobs and very few employers being able to pay salaries as and when due.
Emphasizing the seriousness of the current economic situation in the country, Comrade Wabba said Government must consult more widely and come up with an enduring solution to the problem.
He also lamented the absence of a credible economic team with a coherent policy capable of responding to the present economic challenges. Adding that Labour is serious enough a component of this polity to be considered to be part of this team when government constitutes one.
He warned government and other employers of labour against nonpayment if salaries pointing out that some state government have refused to pay salaries of workers even after collecting the bail out fund from the federal government.
He said: “It has been observed that many employers including the public sector, have reneged on their contractual obligation to their workers by virtue of refusing to pay salaries as when due. This has exposed workers and their families to all manner of difficulties and embarrassment. Some states, even after collecting bail-out funds have refused to pay, citing all manner of excuses.
“Our holy books tell us that a labourer deserves his wages! Violation of this well-known dictum is not only abhorrent and reprehensible; it is criminal and not acceptable to us.
“Accordingly, we have instructed our unions and councils to furnish us with the details of debtor-employers for the purpose of a sustainable engagement on the streets. We by this statement put our state governments and other MDAs on notice. Except they pay up now, they shall keep a date with us”
Wabba warned the Kaduna state government against going ahead with its audit of union members and forbidding workers from belonging to unions, adding that the decision of the State Government to unilaterally conduct a membership audit of union members constitutes a gross interference in the internal affairs of the unions and is an illegality.
He said further that “this government’s latest policy or directive is not only an affront but a direct violation of the fundamental and constitutional rights of workers as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); Conventions 87 and 98 of ILO ( ratified by Nigeria); and the Trade Unions (Amendment) Act which guarantee the right and protection of workers to freely associate, unionise and operate independently of government.
“We have since gone back to Kaduna to mobilize resistance to this policy via sensitizing more workers and using strategic contacts in government circles. We have done a strong letter to the Governor but which we are yet to release.
“We also reached out to Femi Falana, SAN, who has given us a draft letter to the governor. Please, note that a legal option avails us an opportunity of instituting multiple suits against the Government of Kaduna State since each union is a legal entity of its own”.

LTV

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