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NLC, TUC Respond to Tinubu, prioritize effective governance over partisan politics.



NLC and TUC respond to Tinubu prioritize effective governance over partisan politics.
Wema Bank Alat

NLC and TUC respond to Tinubu prioritize effective governance over partisan politics.




President Bola Tinubu has been criticizing organized labor’s string of strikes since taking office. In response, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said yesterday that its main goal was to force the government to address the nation’s widespread hunger, unemployment, housing crisis, insecurity, and rising costs of basic necessities.



Similarly, Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Festus Osifo asserted that trade unions had the right to organize protests and go on strike in order to put pressure on the government to accede to their demands when needed.



Tinubu had on Thursday admonished the NLC leadership during the inauguration of the Red-Line Railway Project in Lagos, accusing them of overreaching themselves and trying to act as the sole voice of the Nigerian people.



Tinubu had also advised the labour leaders to wait till 2027 if they were keen on holding elective public offices.



However, in a statement signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero, the labour centre said its sole focus was on advocating for effective governance that prioritises the welfare and security of all Nigerians



He said that the use of veiled threats against labour by Tinubu was unacceptable.



The NLC President pointed out that Tinubu’s insinuation that labour lacks the moral ground to challenge his administration merely nine months into office was worrisome.



“We find these remarks, particularly those concerning the role of labour in governance, to be profoundly at variance with the struggles faced by ordinary Nigerians under existing policies.



“President Tinubu’s insinuation that Labour lacks the moral ground to challenge his administration, merely nine months into office, is deeply troubling. Moreover, his focus on partisan issues and the distant 2027 election cycle, rather than the urgent needs of the populace, further underscores a disconnect from the realities faced by Nigerians on a daily basis.



“It is regrettable that the President seems oblivious to the profound hardships endured by millions of Nigerians. 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 emphasise that our primary objective is not to vie for political positions, including that of the President,” Ajaero added.



According to the NLC leader, the sole focus of the congress was to advocate for effective governance that prioritises 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,” he added.



Ajaero said it was 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.”



According to him, “some of the critical matters that call for urgent attention include wage increases, social welfare programmes, infrastructure development, and the revitalization of key sectors such as education and healthcare.”



He added that, in order to avoid the dissipation of energy, it was important for the government to focus on the real issues affecting workers and Nigerians in general.



He said organized labor has engaged the government since June 2023, after the fuel subsidy was removed.



While tracing the genesis of the current face-off, the NLC President said, “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: review the proposal for wage increases and awards, including the framework for timing and implementation; review the programme of cash transfers; and propose the inclusion of low-income earners in the programme; review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector; and propose solutions for implementation.”



Others include “to revive the CNG conversion programmes, review of the framework for the completion of rehabilitation work on the nation’s refineries, and review of the framework for the maintenance of roads and expansion of rail networks across the country.”



He pointed out that agreements were reached, but the committee that was saddled with working on them was never inaugurated, and none of them was implemented until Labor was forced to organise a nationwide rally before 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,” he explained.



The NLC said the issues they were protesting against were neither election-related nor perhaps seeking to take over the president’s job.



He listed the items on the October 2023 agreement to include the N35,000 Wage Award, that Port Harcourt Refinery will come on stream by December 2023, that 25,000 cash transfers to 15 million poor household would be implemented, tax waivers for workers, small businesses and general public, and and government interference in the internal affairs of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and RTEAN to be stopped



He said the agreement further stated that CNG buses and 55,000 conversion kits would be provided, visitation to the Refinery to monitor completion of the Port-Harcourt refinery, that the National Minimum Wage Committee would be set up immediately, that outstanding Wages and Salaries for Tertiary Education workers in all federally owned educational institutions would be paid, Fertilizer initiative to farmers across the nation and provision of funds for MSMEs across the nation



In addition, the NLC President said states and private sectors were to be compelled by the federal government to give Wage Award to workers



“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 the right to ask that it comply with the agreement it willingly reached with us?



“But beside all these, in the two MoUs signed with this government on June 5th 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 also also to hungry Nigerians



“President Tinubu’s administration must be held accountable for the commitments made in previous agreements with Labor. 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 attempt 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, prioritise governance over politics, and take meaningful steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.”



Similarly, reacting to Tinubu’s comment, Osifo, while speaking in an interview on a television programme yesterday, said: “I could speak for the Trade Union Congress; we are not politicians, we are unionists, and it is our right to protest. It is a fundamental right of every single Nigerian. So we don’t have issues with protests when need be; people must exercise their rights, and people must protest.



“In terms of waiting till 2027 to enter politics, I don’t think that is something we could dabble into because, as an individual, I am not a card-carrying member of any political party.



“What I am interested in is the welfare of my members and indeed the entire Nigerian masses. So, the president is alien to us because the right to protest and strike is that of the workers.



“There are condition precedents; for the fact that you are going on a protest or strike, there are some things that led to it; those fundamental issues must be addressed.”


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