Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has endorsed the clamour for a financial bailout for over 23 states of the federation to clear their backlog of salaries.
The union attributed the inability of the states to pay workers’ salaries to the huge resources which politicians spent on the last general elections.
It promised to support the efforts of the affected state governors, including sourcing for financial succour to offset their debts.
In an exclusive interview with the Nigerian Pilot in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, explained that the quest for political power made the immediate past governors to dip their hands into the treasury to prosecute elections without minding the consequences on the finances of their states.
He said: “We have to tell ourselves the truth, these politicians spent huge resources running into billions of naira of tax payers’ money to run for different political offices in Nigeria. In fact, some state governors went as far as pledging their state funds to their political parties, and you know that these monies, which most of them spent, come from the federal allocation, for staff salaries, pensions and other allowances.”
Wabba said that labour would support the move by state governors to seek for bailout from the Federal Government to enable them bankroll the payment of their workers’ salaries under well spelt out terms.
“When Nigerian banks were shaking and needed help, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, came to their rescue with billions of naira as bailout. Just recently, the Federal Government gave bailout to new power plants’ investors in billions of naira, even when there is more blackout. Now, that workers’ salaries, pensions and allowances are involved, we will support it if the Federal Government gave bailout to the affected state governors to salvage the situation and save workers from untold hardship,” Wabba said.
The NLC President said that apart from the other 23 states, the situation in Osun, Kogi, Oyo and Plateau states are more critical. “States like Plateau and Oyo have commenced the payment of a few months’ salaries to the workers, while other states like Kogi and Osun have not made any move to offset the huge salary debt” he said.
He added that the committee setup by the Congress to assess the situation is working to compel the owing state governments to pay the workers.
“Many workers have lost the respect of their friends and families due to their inability to meet their financial obligations. Some of them are sick, without money to pay for medicals. Others cannot even pay their children’s school fees. As a labour movement, we cannot afford to fold our arms and watch our members suffer for the sin they did not commit” he said.