- We’ll reject downsizing, says Labour
President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, are set for a collision course over the former’s plan to reduce the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs under his rationalisation programme.
Leaders of the NLC yesterday in Abuja, declared that any restructuring of the federal bureaucracy that would lead to the loss of jobs would be fiercely resisted by Nigerian workers.
In an interaction with journalists in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, vowed that Labour would reject plans by the Federal Government to merge MDAs and asserted that the move would achieve no good result than forcing Nigerians out of jobs, thereby worsening their wellbeing.
President Buhari had last Saturday confirmed the plan by his administration to reduce the number of ministries in the country.
Buhari bared his mind on the matter at a meeting with members of the Nigerian community in Benin Republic.
There are speculations that the President may operate with between 19 and 25 ministries.
If he goes ahead with the move, it may lead to the first nationwide strike by workers since he assumed office on May 29.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s bid, NLC said that instead of embarking on measures that would lead to job loss, Buhari should improve on workers’ welfare by revisiting the minimum wage, with a view to increasing it from the current N18,000 considering the significant devaluation of the naira and inflation.
Wabba, who briefed journalists shortly before the commencement of the National Executive Council meeting of NLC, stressed that the reduction of MDAs which was suggested in the Stephen Oronsaye Report, would only be supported if labour gets “strong assurances” that it won’t affect job security.
He said that the NEC meeting will extensively discuss the unstable condition of the economy, which he said, has left workers with the challenge of coping with the significant drop in their purchasing power.
Wabba said that the NEC meeting intends to discuss the issues of economy, delayed salaries, tax waivers, and corruption, which he noted, “is no longer in hundreds of millions, but in billions of dollars” and challenged the government to quickly sanitise the system to restore confidence in the citizens.
Wabba said: “Labour is going to lead a nationwide protest to demand that the country’s looted funds be recovered while those responsible for such acts are prosecuted, as that would serve as a deterrent to those nursing the idea of tempering with public funds, especially at the level of leadership.
“For Nigeria to solve the issue of corruption, workers must be appropriately remunerated with a commiserate salary to attend to their daily needs,” he said, warning that if that was not done, workers might be tempted to aid corruption.
The NLC said that the labour movement was worried by the increase in illicit financial flow as well as high level of waivers, especially tax waivers and tasked the government to move against tax defaulters. “If this is done, there will be enough money to drive the process of governance,” he stated.
Wabba maintained that the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as fuel, would not solve the issues of scarcity of the product except the refineries are repaired.