APC Women, Labour Leaders Demand Immediate Release Of Chibok Girls

Chibok girls videoAll Progressives Congress (APC) women and Labour unions in Lagos State on Tuesday joined the call for the rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State a month ago by suspected Boko Haram insurgents as the incident continues to draw both national and international attention.

Led by their leader Mrs Kemi Nelson, the women submitted a letter to the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), for onward dispatch to President Goodluck Jonathan, demanding, among others the immediate and safe release of the girls.

In the letter read by Nelson, before submission to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, who received them at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on behalf of the Governor, the women expressed dismay at the apparent inaction of the Federal Government towards securing the release of the girls.

They particularly accused the President of insensitivity toward the incident recalling “with sadness” that despite the untoward happening and the fact that parents of those children were going through serious trauma, President Goodluck Jonathan danced publicly at a campaign rally of the People’s Democratic Party in Kano State.

Noting that the kidnap of the Chibok girls was not the first of such incident in the country, the women told the President, “Like in the first kidnap on Tuesday January 14 2014, Nigerians and indeed the entire world have not seen any positive action. Instead, and sadly too, the local and international media are awash with saddening reports which point to complicity of inaction by even the Nigerian Military”.

They expressed shock Amnesty International’s disclosure that the Nigerian Military High Command was allegedly alerted four hours before the “unprecedented mass kidnap” and that even after the kidnap, the military kept away from immediately pursuing the terrorists in order to rescue the girls.

Noting that such reports did not depict seriousness on the part of the President in seeking the rescue of the girls, the women declared, “Mr. Presidents, we advise that you brace up to arrest the worsening security situation in the nation”.

The women, however, expressed relief that the international community, notably the United States of America, Britain, France, China, Israel and countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have all offered their assistance towards rescuing the girls.

In their own letter to the President, the State Councils of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), appealed to all well-meaning Nigerians, including religious leaders and the international community, to continue to put pressure on the Boko Haram to release the girls unconditionally.

The unions said they have chosen to toe the line of peaceful approach to the resolution of the problem because of its sensitive nature pointing out that if violence was employed in the effort to secure the release of the girls, it would lead to bloodshed and the casualty toll would inevitably include the girls themselves.

“We call on Mr. President and our allies to spare no rod to ensure that the Chibok Girls are brought back to their families and the nation hail and alive. We know that they would have to undergo medical and psychological treatment to heal the horrors they may have been subjected to”, the unions said adding that if all Nigerians work together as a single unit of humanity, the insurgency issue would be defeated.

Warning against any attempt by the international community to turn Nigeria into a theatre of war with terrorists like Afghanistan, Pakistan and others, the unions declared, “If we unleash the power of the working class within the confines of Nigeria and worldwide on anti-people  regimes or terror forces like Boko Haram, such bodies would disintegrate and collapse”.

Demanding the unconditional release of the girls by Boko Haram, the Unions also asserted, “We honestly hope that the Nigeria labour movement would not be forced to declare full battle against the abductors of the Chibok girls before the reasonable is done”.

Receiving the letters from the two groups on behalf of the Governor, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, thanked them for identifying with the rest of Nigerians, particularly the affected families, to seek the release of the Chibok girls.

The Commissioner, who expressed sadness at the nature of the abduction of the girls whom he described as “those expected to take over from us”, prayed that they would be rescued and returned to their families in good health, adding that the global reaction to the abduction has been spontaneous.

Hoping that the Federal Government would not misconstrue the action to mean that it is being sponsored like was the case during the mass action over fuel crisis, Ibirogba declared, “We are all in this believing that since no nation thrives on violence and irregularities that we have now, the God we serve will bring back these children hale and hearty”.

“We are happy that despite that some people in Abuja would have swept the issue under the carpet, the international community has taken it up and now we are all seeing the result and everybody is hearing the news globally. We believe that everybody has a right to life and nobody should be denied that right whether a minor or an adult”, the Commissioner said.

Prominent among those present were Chairman Lagos Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Idowu Adelakun and his Trade Union Congress of Nigeria counterpart, Comrade Kazeem Akeem on the Labour side, and Senator (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu and Hon. (Mrs.) Olufunmilayo Tejuosho, among numerous other prominent party Chieftains and Market women.

NLC VP Berates FG Over Reliance On Oil

The Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has stressed the need for the Federal Government not to depend heavily on oil for its budgetary plans and revenue generation.

At a news conference in Kaduna to review the activities of the government for 2013, Aremu expressed sadness that the country still relies heavily on oil as the mainstay of the economy, 53 years after her independence.

He said that it was high time the country diversified into other sectors such as automobile, food and beverages in order to sustain the economy.

“The point I want to raise is that 53 years after independence, it is sad that we still rely on crude oil. The fundamental of our budget still rely on one source of revenue which is oil. I think I want to say next year the Federal Government should redouble its effort to make sure we add value through manufacturing sector. The only way to do so is for us to do as much as possible to revive the industries, not just the textiles but the automobile, food and beverages.

“There is a report that came out last week in a business newspaper that close to 130 companies have closed down in Nigeria. So, while our government is talking of direct foreign investment coming to Nigeria, we should make the point that the domestic investment is actually dying, and you cannot create jobs if there are no industries. In fact, for us to solve the problem of unemployment is for us to add value to our natural resources and raw materials and process them into manufactured products.

“This is where I think government has taken a bold decision on the new automotive policy which is to restrict the wholesale importation of imported second hand vehicles. We hope this will give an incentive for domestic assembly plants to return to business such as Peugeot, Volkswagen, ANAMCO in Anambra”, he said.

He called on the Federal Government to redouble its effort in its industrialisation policies, adding that the only way forward is for government to revive the industries that have closed down for years.

It Took Us Two Years To Negotiate Review Of Minimum Wage- NLC

The Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Isa Aremu on Friday disclosed that it took the congress effectively two years to agitate and negotiate for the review of the old minimum wage.

The Labour chief, who was speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, also went memory lane to give a historical review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria.

“The first minimum wage we had in this country was in 1981, under President Shehu Shagari, 2nd Repiblic, that’s N125. In 1992 we reviewed it, that’s under the military to N250 and by the time we got to 2000 that is the return to democracy, it was also reviewed to N5, 500 under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the President of the NLC” noting that “now, ten years after we thought we should review it and it took us two years” he said.

He went further to list the processes involved in the review of the minimum wage as an “all inclusive thing”.

He said “we had deliberation for two years. That became an Executive Bill taken to the National Assembly” noting that “the same very assembly passed the law”.

He commended Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole for utilizing his privileges to join in the negotiations while his colleagues shied away.  He also called on governors who, after the Bill had become law, said they “couldn’t pay, to go back to the process of collective bargaining”.

He also called on the federal government to put in place a robust mechanism in enforcing other labour issues, “safety standards for instance, occupational health and safety” revealing that “today you have a law, Factory Act” which stipulates that “before you set up an enterprise, you must have certain safety routes. You must have escape routes, you must be able to have fire extinguisher “.

He added that the laws should not be restricted to state and public establishments but to be extended to the private sector, failing which they should be closed as punishment.

NLC Supports Emergency Rule In Three Northern States

From the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has come full support for the state of emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.

In a press release signed by the president of the congress, Abdulwaheed Omar,  the congress explained that “in view of reported seizures of territories, audacious attacks on sensitive targets,  wiping out of communities, deadly cross-border attacks and other acts of mindless violence by insurgents, congress considers the declaration of emergency as  an appropriate response”.

The union maintained that if the level of bloodletting and attacks were not checked on time, they were capable of balkanising the entire country.

The NLC, however, warned that the “government must clearly understand and spell out the rules of engagement to which the troops and other security personnel must strictly adhere or be called to account”.

It also urged the government to ensure that  the declaration of emergency will not  be a tool for dealing with perceived political enemies.

Minimum Wage: TUC Urges Osun Government To Fulfill Agreement

Osun state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress has asked the state government to fulfill its agreement on the full implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage for civil servants on grade level 8 to 17.

State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Adetunji Francis said the agreement to spread the minimum wage across bar to all grade levels when the economy of Osun state improves  was signed with the state government in April 2012 and the state has not lived up to its promise.

Special Adviser to the governor on Regional Integration and Special Duties, Bashiru Ajibola maintained that the economy of the state is yet to improve; as such government has to work within the limit of what it gets as allocation from the federal government, which he said “basically 70 per cent goes on payment of worker’s salaries”.

Labour Shuts Down Economic Activities In Plateau State

Organised labour comprising of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Plateau state embarked on solidarity strike action in sympathy with their counterparts in the local government areas demanding for implementation of the minimum wage increase.

Plateau state government in reaction to the industrial action through director of research and documentations, Chris Kwaja urged labour to reconsider the option of dialogue as government recognises organised labour as a partner in progress both in governance and development of the state.

The government takes exception to violence as evidence in the harassment of citizens which had led to vandalising some properties, particularly that of government officials stressing that the welfare of workers and that of the citizens remain its priority.

The organised labour had threatened to embark on an indefinite strike if their Monday night deadline was not met by the government.

The entrance to Joseph Gomwalk Secretariat, at the state capital was filled with the striking workers preventing members from gaining entrance to the complex while labour officials were at hand to monitor and enforce total compliance of the order.

Apart from government offices that were shut down, customers could not have access to transact business as banks were also under lock and key.
Addressing members, Chairman Plateau State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, Jibrin Banchir, warned workers to desist from been violent and should be careful not to allow miscreants hijack the planned action while claiming that labour has not received any court injunction concerning the ongoing strike.

State police Commissioner of Police, Chris Olakpe, who was recently appointed, addressed the striking workers in what can be seen as the first official engagement in plateau.

Plateau state government expressed disappointment in labour for not obeying the industrial court orders restraining labour from embarking on the strike while urging the striking workers to embrace dialogue in solving the protracted issue.

Labour vows to protest the non-implementation of fuel subsidy report

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has vowed to mobilise Nigerians on another round of street protest if the Federal Government fails to implement the report of the Farouk Lawan-led committee on the probe of the fuel subsidy.

The President of the NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, stated this in his address during the May Day celebration on Tuesday in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, accused the government of alleged plans to outlaw strikes.

The labour leader, whose address was delivered by the state leader, Comrade Bashiru Olanrewaju, called on all Nigerians to support the labour group in the planned confrontation with the government.

Meanwhile, the national labour leader also declared that another nationwide strike is inevitable due to the alleged poor implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage, as Comrade Omar accused some state governments of failing to implement the minimum wage.

Omar alleged that governors of Enugu, Ebonyi and Kwara have continued to deny workers their legitimate wages. He said the struggle continues in Oyo State.

According to the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, “the N18,000 minimum wage was no longer tenable.”

“It is tragic that the Federal Government has been reluctant, or failed to pressure such governors not to continue their violation of the country’s constitution by failing to pay workers their legitimate salaries in line with the law.”

The NLC boss added that there is a contagious revisionist movement in states like Kebbi and Kogi to reverse the new Minimum Wage while the Adamawa State government is violating the constitution and labour laws by tampering with the aspects on labour which is on the Exclusive Legislative List.

The labour groups also accused some governors of exploring the constitutional amendment route to negate the implementation of the Wage Act.

Comrade Omar stated that the state governments are acting under the guise of federalism to replace industrial relations, minimum wage, labour in the concurrent list instead of the exclusive list.

“We also want to use this opportunity to serve a notice on the various governments at all levels that the minimum wage of N18,000 is no longer tenable and it is time for a review. This is to bring it in conformity with the objective reality of our times and to cushion the effect of the fuel price hike on the common masses and the increasing cost of basic commodities including Housing” Esele said.

No more condemnation

Mr Esele also condemned the raging corruption in the public service which the government seems to not bother about, adding that killings of innocent Nigerians by armed robbers and Boko Haram should be directed at the corrupt public servants.

He noted that said no amount of investment drive by the president and governors would attract foreign investors to Nigeria in the face of insecurity.

“As we celebrate, let us pause and look at how lives have been lost. We have become a country that is unshockable. Life no longer means anything. And every day the only grammar we hear is that the Federal Government condemns ThisDay bombing, condemn Kaduna bombing, condemn Plateau, condemns Abuja bombing, condemns Kano bombing, condemns Gombe bombing, condemns and condemns. We don’t want to hear condemnation anymore.”

“We want people brought to book. We want sponsors to be arrested. We want those behind these heinous crimes against the Nigerian state to be brought to justice” he demanded adding that “that is how you can attract foreign investments.”

“Every day, we see governors, the President travelling all over the world asking for investment. No businessman will invest in any country where there is no security. No businessman will put money where there is no security. If the environment is conducive, making money for business is like an ant and the sugar. They will naturally gravitate” he said.

Akpabio approves N18,900.20 minimum wage in Akwa Ibom

The Akwa Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio has approved N18, 900. 27 k as minimum monthly wage in the state’s Civil Service, starting from this month.

Mr. Akpabio made the announcement in Uyo on Monday when the state’s chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) paid him a solidarity visit in respect of workers day rally.

The governor said that he had set up a committee, comprising labour and government officials to look into the issue as demanded by the NLC, adding that the outcome was the signing of the agreement.

He stated that execution of projects by his administration would not be at the detriment of payment of salaries and emolument of workers.

“Payment of salaries and emolument of worker remain a major project. Your entitlement on a monthly basis is a project for the government.

“When I was the Commissioner for Local Government, I had to stop projects so that they could pay all the salary arrears and allowances owed the workers.

“No government can claim that it was doing projects when workers are dying of hunger as a result of non-payment of salaries. ’

NLC cancels labour rally in Kano

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cancelled its annual rally and parade in Kano state, due to the current security challenge in the state.

Addressing a press conference at the state’s press centre on Tuesday, the state chairman of the NLC in Kano, Isah Yunusa Danguguwa stated that the labour union will use the day to visit hospitals and homes of victims of the recent Boko Haram attacks.

He urged workers in the state to remain committed in executing their duties, noting that NLC will not relent in protecting their rights.

The annual rally which is organised by the labour group, holds in all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to mark the ‘May day’ celebration for workers.

Residents in the state woke up to two hours long exchange of gunfire as security operatives invaded a suspected den of Boko Haram, killing one person. The state, last Sunday, also witnessed bomb attacks on Churches within the campus of Bayero University which claimed 20 lives as well as a number of jail breaks and sporadic shootings by members of fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram.

The commercial city has recorded a number of devastating attacks from the fundamentalist sect this year with a bomb explosion in Christian worship centres within the Bayero University Kano on Sunday which claimed 20 lives while almost 200 people were killed in an earlier attack in the year.

NLC demands report on probe of fuel subsidy

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has alleged that there are ongoing moves to ‘instigate a major cover up” for the House of Representative probe on fuel subsidy and has demanded an urgent release of the probe’s report.

This was stated in a press release signed by the President of the labour group, Abdulwahed Ibrahim Omar, where he claimed that there are “insinuations that unprecedented pressure has been mounted on the legislature from various quarters to jettison the report.”

The House of Representatives committee on the downstream sector was set-up an ad-hoc committee to probe the increase in the payment of fuel from N600billion in 2010 to N1.2trillion in 2011.

The committee swung into action for 10 weeks on the probe following wide spread protest and industrial action following the removal of oil subsidy in January.

The probe invited every major oil companies, oil importer and marketer that have benefited from the oil subsidy as well as government agencies and departments involved in the downstream sector. A host of revelations were made during the probe which was broadcasted live by Channels Television.

According to the NLC, some interests groups, such as oil marketers, speculators and briefcase businessmen who will lose out on cheap money and government officials who have been feeding fat on contrived leakages in the oil industry, stand indicted and might face sanctions based on assessment of their submissions during the probe.

The NLC worries that “these pressures might overwhelm the report of the probe or if released might not be implemented by the executive.”

Ribadu’s distraction

It also noted that the rush by the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke, to set up series of committees and task forces to probe the oil industry, is “tantamount to medicine after death.”

Referring to the appointment of former anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu, as the Chairman of the taskforce, Labour noted that despite the caliber of people that constitute the task-force, “it might also be a distraction and a ploy to pre-empt the report by the legislature and instigate a major cover up.”

Citing examples of similar rigorous probe into some critical sectors of the economy, but  such probe’s report were jettisoned; the labour group warned that Nigerians will not tolerate such this time around, adding that “investigations into the oil subsidy removal was a product of a recent national strike and mass protest by workers and the Nigerian people.”

“Thus, the probe report by the National Assembly will not be allowed to be so treated as the power probe or other probe reports of its kind” the statement said emphatically.

It commended the House of Representative on its stand on the report of the probe on privatization of public enterprises, and called on the Chairperson of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Farouk Lawan, to make true his claim that “there would be no sacred cows.”

“We are watching!” the labour leader concluded the message.