TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

2011: NLC ACCUSES POLITICAL ELITE OF PLOT TO UNDERMINE ELECTIONS

By NBF News

Organised labour at the weekend alerted on a looming danger in the polity alleging that some elements within the political elite were plotting to frustrate the 2011 elections.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which rose from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Akure, Ondo State, also called for the immediate reversal of the recent increase in electricity tariff, failing which it might not be able to guarantee industrial peace across the country because the increase was unilateral and without consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Amid controversies, thrown up by the issue of zoning of the Presidency, within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the congress said despite efforts at making the 2011 elections credible, some anti-democratic elements were determined to undermine the elections.

In view of this development, the leadership of the congress said it would meet with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to explore ways of partnership that would checkmate antics of the political elite.

The Congress also voiced its opposition to some other recent policies of the Federal Government, including the planned abolition of the Education Tax and Education Trust Fund as well as proposed increase in Value Added Tax.

In a communique signed by its President, Abdulwaheed Omar, and General Secretary, John Odah, NLC said it welcomed the appointment of Prof Attahiru Jega as the Chairman of INEC but added that, 'it does not automatically guarantee credible elections in the face of mounting determination of some anti-democratic elements among the political elite determined to frustrate a free and fair electoral process.'

NLC said it would do all within its power in partnership with INEC to avert the imminent danger by partnering to mobilise and enlighten Nigerians for free and fair elections in 2011. In this regard, the NLC said it had resolved to press for the full implementation of the Justice Uwais committee report on electoral reforms, to mitigate any offensives from the enemies of democracy, because the Congress 'is convinced that therein lies a lasting solution to our electoral malady.'

The NEC meeting reviewed the recommendations of the tripartite committee on the new minimum wage and said government should fast track the submission and passage of an amendment to the 2000 National Minimum Wage Act to give effect to the consensus reached by the tripartite committee. On the Education Tax and Education Trust Fund, NLC said scrapping the two sources of funding for education will further deepen the crisis in the education sector and resolved to work with the unions in the sector to 'prevent the implementation of this retrogressive measure.'

It condenmed the state of insecurity across the country, including cases of kidnapping and armed robbery and concluded that the situation was unacceptable as it had imperilled not only lives but also affected freedom of movement, businesses and created negative image for the country in general.

NLC also frowned at the renewed effort by the Federal Government to re-introduce the dichotomy between degree holders and their counterparts with Higher National Diploma (HND), describing it as unnecessary distinction and called for the maintenance of the previous parity position between the two certificates.