The New Initiative for Credible Leadership (NICL), has described the decision of the organized labour to suspend its planned nationwide strike as laudable.
Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and other trade union bodies had planned to embark on a nationwide industrial action over their demand for the increment in minimum wage.
The strike was, however, put on hold following the intervention of the federal government.
Speaking on the development at a press briefing on Tuesday, Rev Steven Onwu, Executive Director NICL, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering commitment to the welfare of workers in Nigeria.
He specifically noted that the President upon assumption of office in May 2015, discovered that several state government and even some federal government agencies were owing workers many months of salary arrears and he swung into action immediately, by directing the Ministry of Finance to arrange Federal Government led bailout funds for such states.
Onwu, on behalf f the group called on Nigerians to give their support to President Buhari to continue this wonderful works beyond 2019.
His statement reads in full:
“The New Initiative For Credible Leadership, NICL, has the suspension of the proposed strike action by the Labour union is a laudable one. We want to commend the Labour Union for their dogged yet decorous engagement with the federal government over the last few months on the issue of increase of the national minimum wage.
At such austere time like we currently find ourselves in as a Nation, with dwindling government revenues, it is quite difficult to get an agreement on any increase at all much more the national minimum wage. We want to commend all members of the tripartite committee for the enormous patriotism and commitment shown during the negotiation process. Without such patriotism as displayed by the entire team, there would not have been any head way in the negotiations.
We want to use this opportunity to also commend the Minister of Labour and productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige for his forthright commitment to the process. He deployed all available tact to ensure there were no breakdown in communication.
Our greatest commendation goes to President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering commitment to the welfare of workers in Nigeria. The President upon assumption of office in May 2015, discovered that several state government and even some federal government agencies were owing workers many months of salary arrears. The President swung into action immediately, by directing the Ministry of Finance to arrange Federal Government led bailout funds for such states. This intervention, as we all witnessed was done several times in the course of this Buhari led administration.
The President kept emphasizing that such bailout funds to state governments should go first to the payment of their staff salaries. At some point when some states were abusing the bailout funds and using same for other purposes, the president had to insist and even tie future funds to evidence of judicious use of previous funds for payments of workers’ salaries. That is the type of commitment and importance the President places on the welfare of the Nigerian worker.
The Buhari led Federal Government has shown itself to be a labour friendly federal government. If the Country’s permits, the Buhari led administration would be paying far higher than the amount the labour union is currently demanding.
Nigerians have taken particular notice of how the Buhari administration has strengthened anti- corruption institutions to help block leakages in the system that allows a few to cart away what belongs to all. The truth of the matter is that, had the previous government invested heavily in infrastructural development as the Buhari led government is currently doing, we will not have these issues at the magnitude we are now.
Had the previous administrations between year 2006 and 2015 invested in upgrading our critical infrastructure as a nation, especially with the unprecedented booms in oil sales, this present government will not be burdened with such enormous responsibility now even in spite of the lower oil prices and dwindling revenues. The Buhari government has had to resort to borrowing to fix critical infrastructures such as power, railways, and roads etc., which were abandoned by previous government.
Whilst the government is spending on critical infrastructure, it is also carrying out the largest social intervention program in the history of the country. These programs such as the school feeding program, 5000 Naira conditional cash transfer to the poorest of the poor, N-Power graduate program, Trader-moni etc. all comes at a huge cost to the government.
The Buhari government despite all this commitments has not relegated the issues of welfare of workers but has continued to improve on their welfare. The FG has made more funds available to the federal mortgage bank to address the housing difficulties workers may be going through. The government is carrying out massive reforms in the health sector and investing in better infrastructure, same with the education sector. All these are part of effort to make life better for the Nigerian worker
We commend president Buhari again for always doing all within his power to make sure national interest comes first. This latest step in agreeing to increase the national minimum wage is another promise kept by this government despite obvious and glaring financial constraints.
It is important as we approach the 2019 general elections that we choose wisely and not return back to those who used every opportunity they had in government to enrich themselves. It will be most unfortunate if we allowed those who squared our resources in the days of plenty back to the treasury just as soon as we are about getting back on our feet.
President Buhari’s government has decided to increase the national minimum wage. It is important that we entrust the implementation to his government. We cannot trust those with little or no interest of the workers with such task.
It is our believe that if President Buhari is allowed to continue beyond 2019, the yield of the several toil and work done on the economy in the past three years will blossom. If the prudent management of the country’s resources is allowed to continue, If massive investment in infrastructure is allowed to continue , if the anti-corruption war is allowed to continue. Then indeed the masses and most especially the workers will benefit most from it.
Buhari has never hidden his desire to alleviate the suffering of the masses as a priority of his government, this has brought him at cross roads with those who have seen Nigeria as their estate where they must obtain rent by all means. President Buhari is their nemesis.
Therefore we at the New Initiative for Credible Leadership encourage all Nigerians to give their support to President Buhari to continue this wonderful works beyond 2019”.
Marvellous T. OJO
For EveAfrique Magazine.