Issa Aremu Says ‘Budget Insufficiency’ Is Affecting Nigeria’s Economy

Issa Aremu on budgetThe former Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has linked Nigeria’s plunging economy to the ‘insufficiency of the budget’.

He decried the plans of the Federal Government to have a budget of eight trillion Naira and later came to the floor of the House to announce a budget of 6.3 trillion Naira.

“I think there were lots of excitements that the country would have an expanded budget – a budget that would be big enough to drive recovery.

“The Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) also said that the budget would be between the range of eight trillion Naira, but when it was formerly announced by the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to the National Assembly, it was about 6.3 trillion Naira which is an improvement from where we are coming from.

“But honestly speaking, I would commend the National Assembly for the excitement to debate the budget”, Mr Issa Aremu said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

The former Vice President of the NLC said: “If you ask me what they are debating – 6.3 trillion Naira is extremely very token for the recovery of 197 million people”.

Giving suggestions on how the government could  make the budget bigger, Mr Aremu was of the opinion that the debate should be taken outside the box of sharing something which was far from being enough and thinking of how to grow the base.

“I find the budget is quite exciting, the President spoke of job creation, growing the economy among others, but honestly, I haven’t seen practical policies that will drive this.

“I think President Buahri should call a stakeholders’ meeting for the manufacturers,” he said.

He stressed that the government could help key sectors that would drive the recovery of the economy and support the budget with a practical force.

“I look forward to seeing the practical effects to be reflected in the budget.

“The government needs to focus on key ministries that must drive recovery – Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry, and Ministry of Labour,” he stressed.

Textile Workers Criticise 18,000 Naira Minimum Wage Reduction

TextileA body of textile workers has kicked against the reduction of the 18,000 Naira minimum wage by some state governors in Nigera.

The governors’ plan, which was as a result of lack of funds, was criticised by the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria on Wednesday in Kadanu State.

Speaking after the group’s Central Working Committee meeting, the General Secretary of the union, Issa Aremu, questioned why the State governments could not pay workers’ salaries while past governors left office with huge severance packages and pensions.

Commending President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention in ensuring that workers’ salaries across the states were paid, the textile workers maintained that any governor that was not willing to pay the 18,000 Naira minimum wage had no business to remain in office since the paramount responsibility of any leader was to serve the people effectively.

They also urged President Buhari to embrace holistic implementation of the Textile Policy, as contained in the National Industrial Revolution Plan, stating that the textile industry remains a critical plank for addressing the current unemployment challenge in Nigeria.

While calling on the government to create enabling environment for the survival of the manufacturing sector, the union stressed the need for proper integration of sustainable industrial policy development for policy coherence between the different arms of government.

They urged the State governments to compliment the Federal Government’s efforts by initiating bold industrial policies such as provision of infrastructure, granting of genuine tax incentives and patronage of ‘made in Nigeria’ products to revive closed factories within their localities .

Pay Salaries Or Resign, Aremu Tells Governors

NLC-Issa-aremuFormer Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, has asked state governors that are unable to pay their workers’ salaries to immediately resign from office.

He added that any governor who could not pay workers their monthly salary as and when due had no moral right to remain in office.

Genocide And Deliberate

Aremu, while speaking with journalists, wondered how and why state governors could not learn from President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been blocking loopholes and fighting corruption.

He described the non-payment of salaries as genocide and deliberate strangulation of the working people through a denial of wage income that had led to the deaths of many workers.

Minimum Wage Is A Constitutional Matter – Ngige

Minimum WageThe Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has said that the review of national minimum wage is a constitutional matter that cannot be achieved by mere protest or agitations without recourse to the National Assembly.

The Minister was reacting to recent remarks by some state governors and the organized labour movement on the need for a review of the nation’s minimum wage from 18,000 naira.

According to him, both those who clamour for the upward review of the minimum wage and those against it cannot change the situation unless there is another dialogue with the workers union and the National Assembly repeals the National Minimum Wage Act.

Governors’ Proposal

Some state governors have been complaining that they lack the resources to pay the current 18,000 minimum wage owing to dwindling resources and the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) had agreed to reduce the amount as a way out of the economic challenges in some states.

Governors from the 36 of Nigeria said that with the poor state of the economy, they can no longer pay the N18,000 minimum wage to workers.

The governors, after a meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in November announced that the dwindling prices of oil had drastically affected their states’ income.

The forum said that it has planned to hold a round-table meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to find a solution to the economic situation confronting the country.

Angry Reactions

The governors’ proposal has generated angry reactions from many Nigerians who have kicked against NGF’s decision to reduce the 18,000 Naira minimum wage being paid to Nigerian workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has since intensified its call on the Federal Government to increase the minimum wage of Nigerian workers saying that Nigerian workers can no longer cope with 18,000 naira.

The President of the workers union, Mr Ayuba Waba, while speaking at a rally in Abuja, said that there is need for the government to diversify from the oil dependent economy, make electricity stable and create jobs for the unemployed

, rather than proposing a reduction in wages.

A former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, also advised governors who are not willing to sustain the 18,000 Naira minimum wage for workers to resign from office.

Aremu, speaking at the 18th Joint Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that such governors have no reason to lead the people or remain in office.

The Ogun State Chairman of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Yinka Folarin, also expressed displeasure with the development while speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital in south-west Nigeria.

Mr Folarin described the attempt as ‘anti-people and a betrayal of the confidence reposed in the forum and its promoters’, saying it must be resisted by the populace.

Governors Who Cannot Pay N18,000 Minimum Wage Should Resign – Aremu

Minimum wageFormer Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has advised governors who are not willing to sustain the 18,000 Naira minimum wage for workers to resign from office.

Aremu, speaking at the 18th Joint Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that such governors have no reason to lead the people, or remain in office.

Presenting a paper titled, “Government Patronage of Made-In-Nigeria Products, A Panacea For Industrial Growth and Development”, Aremu noted that one of the ways Nigerians would judge the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari and all the 36 state governors, would be their ability to resuscitate the collapsed industries in the country and create more jobs.

He expressed worry that the nation might be in for more trouble if the alarming rate of unemployment is not properly addressed.

The former NLC Vice President also identified lack of road infrastructure as one of the factors that led to the collapse of the industries.

He appealed to the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to do his best possible, to reinvent the nation’s roads.

Textile Workers Urge FG To Declare War On Smugglers

Nigeria-TextileTextile workers in the country have called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to declare total war against smugglers.

The workers also called on the President to also the revival of collapsed textile factories across the country.

General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment & Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Issa Aremu, made the appeal at a one day conference organised by the Association of Textile Technologists of Nigeria held at the Kaduna Polytechnic.

He specifically tasked the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, to justify his appointment by declaring a total war against smuggling of contraband products.

Aremu argued that failure to revive the collapsed industries, especially the textile factories in the country, would impact negatively on the economy.

He added that the revival of the domestic textile industry would result in a significant fall in the number of unemployed in the country.

Mr Aremu said the collapse of textile factories across the country over the years had led to loss of jobs and revenue.

The textile workers also advised President Buhari to ensure the speedy completion of all existing road projects across the country before flagging off new ones.

Guest Speaker at the conference, Professor Kassali Bello, urged the Government to aid the revival of the textile industry by introducing new initiatives to improve the domestic content and manpower development to increase the appeal of finished goods and make them more acceptable in the highly competitive international market.


NLC Urges Public Office Holders To Declare Assets

NLC-Issa-aremuThe Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), has called on all public officers in the country to promptly make public the details of their assets.

The Union made the request in a statement issued by its factional Deputy President, Issa Aremu on Sunday in Kaduna.

While commending President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for making their declared assets public, the NLC deputy president challenged other elected and appointed public officers such as governors, state and federal legislators to follow suit by making their assets public.

He stressed that the action of the president and his vice had made the war against corruption all inclusive, and also imposes a moral burden on all public office holders.

According to the statement, “in a country whereby the common wealth had been serially looted by a few individuals, only those who make sources of their wealth available to public interrogation will command genuine legitimacy to manage the affairs of Nigerians, while those who fail to declare their assets would be seen as looters of the nation’s treasury”.

NLC Seeks Establishment Of National Border Patrol Guard

PlateauFollowing the increasing of attacks in some parts of the north, factional Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) Issa Aremu has called on the Federal Government to  establish a National Border Patrol Guard (NBPG), under the Ministry of Defence to secure and protect the nation’s borders.     

Speaking during the breaking of  Ramadan fast in Kaduna, Mr Aremu said last Tuesday’s  bomb blast in Zaria that claimed 25 lives and injured 32 others, was an orchestrated violence against workers because most of the victims were civil servants undergoing a verification exercise.

He called on President Buhari to reduce foreign trips in search of help, pay attention to governance and address the issue of Boko Haram.

He stated that  Labour will support genuine government efforts to combat the vicious cycle of violence, and however urged the federal  government to implement the resolutions of the 2014  National Conference on National Security.

He also called for proper equipping and review of welfare packages  of the Armed Forces and Police, including their  pension and gratuity, which he said would motivate them to be genuinely committed in the fight against terror and all forms of external or internal aggression in the country.

Labour Union Demands Rehabilitation Of Refineries In Nigeria

oil-refineryThe Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to urgently fix all deplorable roads and also rehabilitate the refineries in order put an end to incessant tanker accidents that result to fire outbreak across the country.

In a statement issued on Sunday, a factional Deputy President of the NLC, Issa Aremu, described as shameful the movement of highly inflammable products through hundreds kilometres of bad roads in Nigeria instead of the international best practices of using refineries and depots.

Mr Aremu, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to put a stop to such anomaly.

He also urged the present government to deepen the ongoing revival of the railways through public investment.
According to him, the solution is not in privatising the railways as doing so would not add value to national wellbeing and development to the nation’s transport sector.

“Railway requires massive injection of funds to upgrade its tracks to standard gauge and modernise the wagon and haulage facilities. If fixed, Railways can also absorb hundreds of thousands of jobs for the millions of unemployed youths under the Buhari dispensation,” the statement read.

The NLC factional Deputy President also demanded that the government must urgently compensate all the victims of the carnage Onitsha and Lagos petrol tanker fire accidents.

NLC Housing Palaver: We Will Return Monies With Interest – Aremu

NLC-Issa-aremuThe Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Issa Aremu on Monday assured aggrieved workers who subscribed to a failed NLC housing scheme, that their monies would be refunded with interest and an apology.

Aremu said this while on Sunrise Daily, noting that the NLC had the responsibility to do so and also prosecute those culpable in the scam, adding that the reputation of the NLC was at stake.

NLC had in 2013 asked workers to subscribe to the housing scheme which reportedly led to the Congress collecting over N3 billion from workers across the country.

Last week, aggrieved subscribers to the failed NLC Housing Scheme disrupted a forum hosted by the Congress, accusing the President, Abdulwahed Omar of  stealing their money and demanding a refund.

“Nigerian Labour Congress has deceived Nigerian workers for close to three years”, one of the aggrieved persons said, addressing the gathering.

“They are sitting on our money. Close to four billion naira”, he added, noting that the NLC which was supposed to be an advocate of peace, justice and equity had “decided to defraud the Nigerian workers.

Another protester disclosed to Channels Television that she had pumped in almost N2 million into the scheme, in order to get a duplex, but had been unable to get her house or money for more than a year and a half.

Describing the incident as ‘unfortunate’, Aremu, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily, claimed the crisis was caused by a “lack of respect for due diligence and due process” on the part of NLC.

He explained that NLC had partnered with a developer to provide mass houses for subscribers but they had not carried out investigations into the capacity and competence of the developer.

However, it appears there may be a new twist to the story as Mr Aremu hinted that some subscribers may have paid into wrong accounts, noting that the developer had opened a separate account, “without the authorisation of the NLC”.

“Our finding here is that those who paid legitimately into the account the NLC opened, the fund is intact. “It was when we discovered that this parallel account was going on that the trigger for us to revisit the entire process started”, he said.

He has however assured the workers that the leadership was ready to start the process of refunding, as it has taken the decision to prosecute the developer who is now allegedly at large.

The case has since been reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and an internal inquiry will also be carried out to fish out those involved in the process.

NLC Tasks Presidential Candidates to Visit IDPs in North East

Issa-AremuThe Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called on Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) and presidential candidates of other political parties to visit the Internally Displaced Persons and security forces in the north east where the Boko Haram insurgents have been launching deadly attacks.

The Union says the visit of the presidential candidates to the affected areas will enable them have the fore knowledge of the plights of those they want to govern if voted into office.

It also noted that President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Maiduguri last Thursday during which he visited IDPs and wounded soldiers in military hospitals was commendable, and therefore asked Dr Jonathan and other presidential candidates to equally extend similar visits to industrial areas where many industries have been shut down due to lack of power and other basic infrastructure as well as inconsistent government policies.

Addressing a news conference in Kaduna on Sunday, Vice President of the Union, Issa Aremu said it is imperative that those seeking elective offices should have interface with the electorates in order to identify their yearnings and aspirations, rather than selling their programmes during campaign rallies.

Mr Aremu further explained that in casting their votes in the forthcoming election, the Nigerian workers must look for the parties and candidates who can solve their problems and also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure it conducts a free and fair elections.

NUPENG/PENGASSAN Strike Is Long Overdue – Issa Aremu

Issa AremuThe Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Issa Aremu, says the warning strike by NUPENG/PENGASSAN is long overdue, as the union had given series of notices to the Federal Government.

He said that at the moment in the sector, there are no standard jobs. “There is high level of casualisation  and petroleum jobs are not protected.”

Commending NUPENG/PENGASSAN, he said the union had tried in protecting the jobs of their fellow workers and had spoken to the government over their sacked colleagues.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Mr Aremu noted that there were outstanding issues which should not be left untreated; like the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He explained that there were pains behind strikes, especially the problems that are faced because of the strikes but stated that the ongoing strike by the petroleum workers had drawn the attention of the government.

He blamed the government for not adhering to the call of the workers for over three weeks before the strike commenced.

Mr Aremu said that the only language that the government understood was a threat to withdraw service. “When employees threaten to withdraw their services, the government respond,” he said, urging the Federal Government and the National Assembly to pass the PIB which would addresses all issues including Labour and job opportunities (casual and permanent).

He, therefore, advise the Federal Government to learn to negotiate and also respect workers’ rights.