The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged the Federal Government to end the woes of Nigerians.
The labour body said Nigerians, even the working class, cannot longer afford one good meal per day as a result of lack of good governance which has led to non payment of salaries and pensions across states.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja, said it was unfortunate that several states have not prioritised the welfare of their workers and are owing salaries.
He added that the Congress, in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress (TUC), was organising a mass rally in Lagos and Abuja to press home their demand for good governance.
He said: “We thought that we should canvass for the issue of good governance because despite the Paris Club refund to some of the states, many of them have not done well in making sure that workers interest is given the priority it deserve.
“Some of the states have done their best to ensure that the liability of salaries and pensions is paid as and when due. For example, in Bauchi, about 90 percent of those funds was fund to defray salaries and pension. For now, the best example we have is the case of Jigawa where they don’t have liability of pension and salaries as well as gratuity.
“In most of the states, gratuity is building up and it is a very important component of the benefit of the worker. In some states, we have gratuity running into about 77 months.
“The worst case scenario is Imo State where gratuity and pension is in arrears of 77 months and the governor has contemplated saying those pensioners who have not earned their pension for 77 months will be paid in percentage. He proposed 60 percent which the pensioners have rejected.
“We have also tried to go to those states and see how we can assist those pensioners. This portends a lot of danger and challenge because in some states, they don’t look at payment of salaries as a priority. I remember one of the governors saying he was not elected to pay salaries.
“But he also knows that his predecessor lost office because he could not pay salaries and at the time he took over, there was liability of three months which have now increased to six months.
“These are the challenges and we think that we must situate all these things in the campaign for good governance and try to see how our political elites get their priorities right.
“We realised from the data we have that it is not about how much those states earn, but how transparent the process is in those states. Some states receive less and yet don’t have liabilities of salaries and pension, while some receive so much and yet have not given priority to the payment of salaries, pension and gratuity of workers.
“So, side by side with our quest for a review of minimum wage, it is important for us to engage the process and get the people on the same page on the issue of campaign for good governance and also the issue of corruption.
“Basically, whether we like it or not, corruption will continue to fight back and except we wage a serious war, it is not going to be easy for us to defeat those forces that have been part of the problem.
“It is not about resources, but getting our priorities right and that is why you discovered things have not improved in some of those states, but there are states receiving less but have gotten their priorities right and those challenges are being addressed.
“This rally will encompass all issues, including the issue of minimum wage, anti-corruption because good governance is about having a system where the rule of law will be respected, where collective agreement will be respected and the right of citizens, particularly the working class receive appropriately attention. It also include the payment of salaries.
“Side by side with this is the fact that the fight against corruption is NLC limited to the centre. In the states and local governments, we still have people behaving as if nothing is happening.”
That is why we think that these issues should be placed along side core labour issues and other national issues.