THIS NLC IS DOCILE, OSHIOMHOLE TELLS LABOUR LEADERS
Former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Governor of Edo State, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole yesterday took a critical view of the responses of the congress to government policies and concluded that the leadership has been docile. Interestingly, the comments of the former labour leader drew the applause of the teeming delegates to the 10th quardrennial conference of the NLC in Abuja, who rose and gave loud ovation to the governor.
Oshiomhole, who spoke at the opening of the conference of the NLC also found a partner in the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega on the need for the electorate to use the coming election to determine their destiny for another four years by retrenching corrupt leaders through the ballot.
Noting that the NLC needed to wake up from its passive state, Oshiomhole expressed regret that certain anti-worker policies of the government were never rÃŸesponded to by the congress.
According to him, 'the voice of the NLC has been silent in matters of government policies that have to do with the welfare of Nigerians. For example, the policy of reversal of the age of imported old vehicles to 15 years, textile and other material are not good, the NLC must rise to condemn it. If the NLC does, the workers in automobiles industries will return to work.'
He said: It is not an act of God that our people are impoverished but the number of Nigerians who are poor today are more than what we had in 1979, it means this democracy is not working.
'The NLC must stand against it so that the Peugeot company in Nigeria will have cause to smile again. Nigeria cannot be a dumping ground for used vehicles. There should be massive retrenchment of all those holding political office and are not performing and improving the economy. If Nigeria democracy is in trouble it is because we have voted in elites who failed to manage the Nigerian projects and our resources,' he said.
Oshiomhole said the new political leaders that would produce new Nigeria should be able to have coherent industrial policy that would fight corruption, election rigging and canvass for votes in civil language, noting that the corrupt leaders could only be removed through the ballot papers and called on the people to ensure that their votes count.
He said it was regrettable that poverty had continued to grow in Nigeria because of bad leaders who had failed to use the natural resources to improve the economy, lamenting that 'the more oil we export the poorer we become. It is the problem of those who have hijacked power and are not using it to improve the people and the economy,'' the governor said.
Oshiomhole argued that 12 years of democracy in Nigeria should have improved employment and resuscitated companies and factories.
'The NLC must make the Federal Government to start new refineries and make the existing ones to work else graduates will not be employed and we will continue to import,'' the governor said.
He urged the NLC to reject any economic data that does not carry figures on the number of employment provided by the various sector of government, saying 'If you don't know the number of unemployment how can you create jobs,'' the governor asked.
On the lingering issue of minimum wage, Oshiomhole noted; 'Let me say here to the NLC, that it will have a problem with many state governments. Some of these problems are real and others may not. I think what NLC should join other Nigerians to do is to demand a review of the revenue allocation formula. It is not right for the Federal Government to take 42.6 per cent of national income and keep it in Abuja and then share 47.4 per cent to 36 governments and the Federal Capital Territory plus 774 local government areas.
'This is simply not right. Because the Federal Government takes more than it needs, it spends money in the areas it has no business with. I have seen Federal Government officials building primary schools. We know very that the Federal Government has no business building primary education. That should be the responsibility of local government area. This is because Federal Government does not have the capacity to monitor it.
'I learnt that Federal Government made a budget for food security and I say to myself that the Federal government does not need to budget for food at all. It is ironic that Federal Government has a ministry of agriculture even when it does not have land anywhere. So, where will Federal Government find land to farm; those kind of monies are nothing but leakages that can be deployed into other areas for greater impact on the lives of the our people. Such money should be given to local and state governments who have the land and live closely with the people at the grassroots level.'
Professor Jega urged the workers to partner with the Commission and ensure that the next elections are credible to change government at all levels, while assuring that his Commission will be 'impartial and non-partsan so that everybody does the right thing because people are beginning to have confidence in the commission,''
The INEC Chairman said the turnout of Nigerians during registration in spite of the challenges proved that the people believe in INEC and want their votes to count adding that it was time to reform the polity of the nation to ensure fair and credible election as well as elect responsible leaders.
On his part, the President of NLC, Abdulwahed Omar has called for the public office holders and public servants pay packet. He also expressed sadness over the high cost of government in Nigeria.
'The cost of government is too high in Nigeria particularly the remuneration of elected officers. Their salaries should be regulated by the Salary Income and Wage Commission so that underpinning parameter can be used to establish guidelines for all public sector employees and public office holders.'