by Musa Abdullahi & Agency Reports
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, on Friday in Abuja vowed to hold the incoming Muhammadu Buhari-led government accountable in respect of his party’s promises to Nigerians and workers in particular.
Mr. Buhari was elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The unions made the vow at the 2015 May Day celebration with the theme: “The Working Class, Democratic Consolidation and Economic Revival: Charting the Way to National Rebirth’’.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, urged the incoming administration to revive the Ajaokuta Steel complex, saying the plant was conceived to be the cornerstone of Nigeria’s industrialisation programme.
“Unfortunately, our political class has refused to accept the simple truth that no country can truly industrialise without iron and steel industry.
“The fate of Aladja, Osogbo, Jos and Katsina steel rolling mills post-privatization is too grim to recall here,” Mr. Wabba said.
Mr. Wabba advised the government which is to be inaugurated on May 29, to view development from the prism of tapping into the abundant economic potential offered by the entrepreneurial drive of Nigerians.
He said that resources were locked up in the soil and that any country “subserviently” reliant on importation, was only exporting jobs.
While urging the president-elect to pay attention to agriculture as it has the capacity to employ millions of Nigerians, Mr. Wabba said the government must also lead the way by making farming attractive to young people through the provision of agricultural inputs, equipment and other relevant infrastructure.
“There is also the need to establish a strong linkage between different sectors of our economy, especially with regard to promoting industrialisation and manufacturing.
“This will focus on turning our agricultural products and other natural resources into quality semi-processed and fully processed goods.’’
On the issue of unemployment, he noted that the incoming administration had promised to create three million jobs yearly.
“Our leadership will take up all levels of government on their commitment to job creation and will not relent till we see tangible results on these scores,” he said.
He noted that the prevailing economic crunch and the devaluation of the naira has eroded the purchasing power of the Nigerian worker.
“The National Minimum Wage of N18, 000 that was negotiated in 2010 is clearly no longer of any meaningful economic value to workers.
“The five-year circle for periodic review of the National Minimum Wage is at hand.
“We wish to use this May Day celebration to give formal notice that we shall table a request for a new minimum wage for consideration soon after the new administration is sworn in,” he said.
The NLC president advised state governments and other employers of labour yet to discharge their obligations under the current national minimum wage regime to do so immediately as they were breaking the law by not complying with the provisions of the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act.
On his part, Bobboi Kaigama, the President of TUC, called the attention of the incoming government in the areas of economy, national security, anti-corruption war, national unity and cohesion, among others.
Mr. Kaigama said if the president-elect must succeed, his administration must be quick to reverse the present ratio between capital and recurrent expenditure.
“This should be done in such a way that 60 per cent of our total annual revenue projections would be dedicated to the enhancement of social infrastructure and human capital development.’’
He said the incoming government must fashion out effective ways of checking the wastage of the resources, curtailing theft in the oil sector, money laundering, over-invoicing and double-invoicing of contracts, dumping of foreign goods and excessive borrowing among others.
“We charge the incoming government to chart long-term goals but focus on the implementation of short-term and medium-term goals.’’