Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said yesterday that reckless spending by governors, through uneconomical borrowing from commercial banks, was partly responsible for states’ dwindling resources.
Its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement, said the extravagant expenses which the governors were embarking upon had made it possible for them not to have resources for other activities such as payment of salaries.
In the statement, entitled: “National Minimum Wage: APC, PDP; Please Call Your Governors to Order”, Wabba said the NLC has began mobilising its state councils and affiliate industrial unions to resist any action by the governors to either tamper with the minimum wage or embark on mass retrenchment of workers.
The statement said: “For us in the NLC, governors/states are going away with N500 million, N50 million or less from the monthly federation account sharing, not on account of the fall in the price of crude oil alone, but because of the earlier choice(s) the governors made in recklessly mortgaging their states’ revenues through uneconomical borrowing from commercial banks.
“In addition, our governors continue to engage in practices that are completely against the norms and standards of governance in civilised societies, especially those whose economies are under stress such as profligate lifestyles; unnecessarily bloated political aides, awarding contracts that are clearly several notches above prevailing market costs, dedication of hundreds of millions of annual budget to security votes, which are unfortunately more often than not used as slush funds, while expending several millions of naira on their travels and tours that yield literally nothing in return.
“This is apart from the mindless pensions running into several millions of naira that many former governors had, at the point of their exit from power, dishonestly awarded themselves, and which no successor governor has mustered the courage to revoke since this immoral practice began in 2007 or thereabout”.
The congress claimed that “a political elite that cannot fund minimum wages, which is clearly not one that can sustain a typical minimum wage earner and his legal dependents, has one of its members going ahead to put N20 billion to construct a supposed cargo airport in a state capital that is less than 200 kilometres from the federal capital, and where the most viable transportation system is okada.
“Yet this state is not known to manufacture or produce anything currently which needs urgent airlifting. This underscores the misplaced priorities of our current government elites in the country”.
Wabba added that since the swearing in of governors on May 29, some of them decided to change the official cars of state commissioners from Peugeot 406 to Prado Jeeps.
“These are not actions of elite that is conscious of the need to keep the cost of governance down as a result of lean resources due to any economic misfortune,” the statement said.
The NLC hailed Edo, Rivers, Jigawa and Ekiti states’ governors and “other progressive governors”, who have dissociated themselves from move to discard the minimum wage.
It urged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to call their governors to order.
It warned that any attempt to renege on the payment of the N18,000 National Minimum Wage or engage in mass sack of workers would throw the country into industrial disharmony and chaos.