The Nigerian Labour Congress in Niger State has suspended the indefinite strike action it embarked upon five days ago.
The suspension of the strike follows an agreement between organised labour and the state government on immediate implementation of the new minimum wage of thirty thousand naira and the consequential adjustments on salaries of civil servants.
Briefing journalists at the Labour House in Minna, the chairman of the state NLC, comrade Yakubu Garba says the state government has also agreed to pay two months arrears on the new minimum wage to state workers and three months for local government staff in march this year.
He also says government has agreed to release twenty percent of the monthly internally generated revenue to address the liabilities accrued on the 7.5% contributory pension scheme.
The World Vice President of Global Industrial Union who is also the former National Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Issa Aremu has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed late Fidel Castro’s advice on the danger of indiscriminate foreign loans and credits.
Fidel Castro, is the iconic Cuban revolutionary leader who presided over the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008.
He died on Friday November 25, 2016 in Havana, Cuba at the age of 90.
Aremu made the call in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital during a press conference on the death of the former Cuban leader and the need for Nigerian leaders to emulate his exemplary leadership style.
“His death is a shock coming just few months after the global progressive forces including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Industrial Global Union marked his 90th birthday.
“Fidel Castro had long in his decade-long battle of developmental ideas made a case for self-reliance. He had compared the debt burden to that torment in Greek mythology in which a man is doomed to push a large stone uphill for all eternity, a stone that always rolls down again before reaching the top. Debtors, he maintained ‘don’t need new loans’.
“Fidel has since been proven right that most debts were unpayable and uncollectible.
“We must credit the series of debt cancellation of the two decades to audacious alternative views of Fidel Castro, not the astuteness of “negotiators” and so called altruism of creditors.
“President Buhari should emulate the selfless leadership of Fidel Castro because no country can develop through loans and credit. He must work his talk, if he is truly paying tribute to Castro and must withdraw his application for loan to the National Assembly.
“Buhari should not take us back to indebtedness and should be selfless. Buhari and his cabinet members should set example by using the state house hospital,” Aremu said.
The labour leader also berated what he called the western media’s posthumous distortion of history which presented Fidel as a rebel and strong man who with iron hands muzzled the people of Cuban Island.
He called on African leaders to know their history and remember Castro’s contribution to Africa.
He also called on Nigerian leaders from federal to state level to emulated Castro’s selfless nature, especially the two-termed state governors, to stop collecting outrageous pensions allocated to them by the state house of assembly.
According to him, “the outrageous pension given to two-term governors call for concern because they are under-developing states.
“Comrade Adams Oshiomole as a comrade governor, with his remarkable achievements having beaten other governors, should not join them because the money is unnecessary.
“If he does so, it will amount to the saying that ‘if you can’t beat them, you join them’ but he has beaten them with his achievements as governor.
“State houses of assembly should make laws for public good not for executive benefit. The danger of the pension law is that it is now getting addictive and spreading like wild fire to other states of the federation and to me it is pure legal robbing.”
October 5 of every year has been set aside for teachers worldwide in recognition of those described as the vessels of knowledge across the globe.
Teachers have marked the 2016 “World Teachers Day” across Nigeria, with the theme “Valuing Teachers’, Improving their Status”.
They, however, do not have much cause for celebration as they spent most of their time on the streets, carrying placards to demand for better salaries and improvement on their welfare packages.
This comes as at least 80% of Nigerian states owe teachers with some states owing up to nine months salaries and others paying half of the remuneration.
However, officials of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) vowed to take drastic step to address the development, as they claimed that payment of gratuities and general welfare of teachers had been handled with kid gloves.
Speaking in Abuja, the NUT President, Michael Olukoya, gave the state governments owing teachers a two-week ultimatum to address the situation.
He threatened that failure to comply would lead to the teachers embarking on a nationwide strike.
Mr Olukoya noted that the effect of the harsh economy had also made their plight worse as their hopes of receiving salaries at the end of the month had been dashed.
Lending his voice, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, called for support for families of about 600 teachers who lost their lives to the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.
A representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Saidou Jallow, also advocated adequate remuneration of teachers.
In Kaduna State, the teachers lamented the irregular payment of their salaries and expressed concerns over their general well-being.
The State NUT Chairman, Mr Titus Ambah, claimed that primary school teachers were the most affected with many of them being owed up to eight months salaries.
He also complained that the teachers’ annual Leave Transport Grant, which was deducted from their salaries, had not being paid in spite of several appeals to the relevant government authorities.
Ambah, however, commended the Kaduna State government for upgrading teachers’ terminal salary grade-to-grade level, thereby putting them on same with permanent secretaries.
Low Key Celebrations
In Nigeria’s southwest region, the celebration in Osun State was marked in low key with prayers session instead of the usual pomp and parade at the NUT House in Osogbo, the state’s capital.
The NUT State Chairman, Mr Amudah Wakeel, said the decision was taken as a result of the challenges Nigeria was grappling with, especially the economic recession.
He called on the Federal Government to consider the teachers’ demand for a raise in their retirement age from 60-65 years.
Amudah also highlighted some of the problems facing teachers in the state to include payment of half salary, but gave the assurance that they would remain committed to their jobs.
On her part, the Osun State Deputy Governor, Titi Laoye-Tomori urged the teachers to rededicate themselves to impacting quality knowledge in the children.
She noted that whatever they teach would reflect on the wards and reassured them of the state government’s commitment to their welfare. In Kwara State, teachers also made an appeal for improvement in their status.
They acknowledged that they were the worst hit at a period of economic recession.
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was with the teachers to commemorate the occasion, admitted that all their needs could not be met because of the present economic reality.
He, however, said he was committed to their needs within the available resources and urged them to carry out their responsibilities with conscience to the pupils, students and the government.
On their part, the teachers called for a pragmatic approach to their plights and urged the state government to address some of the challenges.
Unlike their counterparts, Ekiti State teachers had a different experience, with Governor, Ayodele Fayose, saying that his administration will continue to motivate and support teachers in the state for improved performance and better results.
Governor Fayose made the statement at an event to mark the celebration in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, where he rewarded some outstanding teachers with cash and car gifts.
The World Teachers’ Day was celebrated in Ekiti State in a grand style, with teachers from all the 16 local government areas converging on the Oluyemi Kayode stadium in the state’s capital.
In their goodwill messages, some dignitaries and the state’s NLC Chairman, Kayode Akosile, stressed the importance of teachers in the society and commended the Governor for his giant strides in the education sector.
The Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has declared Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday 28 a work-free day to enable workers prepare adequately for the state’s governorship election.
Governor Oshiomhole made the declaration on Saturday at the grand reception organised by members of the Nigerian Labour Congress to celebrate his achievement in government.
He also announced the commencement of automated pensions system that would eliminate delays in the pension scheme.
For almost eight years, Governor Oshiomhole, a former labour leader, has run the affairs of Edo State.
He had gathered in a hall leaders of the labour union across the state who have decided to organise a grand reception in his honour.
The labour leaders in their speeches said Governor Oshiomhole had defended the integrity of the union through his development oriented programmes.
At the meeting was the All Progressives Congress’ governorship candidate and he promised to improve on the things the party had done, including payment of salaries, training and use of technology to effect promotions and pensions’ payments.
As the labour leaders disperse one thing at the back of their mind is that the next four years, irrespective of who wins the Edo election, will be less of Aluta Continua and more of Victoria Ascerta.
The Imo State government says it is in partnership agreement with Kebbi State government in agricultural and educational development.
The State Governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, announced the plans at an executive meeting on Wednesday held at the Government House in Owerri, the capital of Imo state in south-east Nigeria.
He said that the state government was going into the partnership to tackle the current economic situation in Nigeria which had giving room for states to look inward.
Governor Okorocha said that the partnership programme would majorly be in rice production while the educational development will be in the area of Teachers training.
The Way To Go
He also told the gathering that his administration was more determined than ever to deploy all machineries to ensure that the partnership would be sustained for the benefit of Imo people, expressing hopes that Imo state would become an agrarian state which would sustain and generate more Internally Generated Revenue for the state.
Responding to comments of the delegates of Kebbi State the Governor said: “Now that you have heard from the horse’s mouth, this will now corroborate my back to agriculture policy for civil servants.
“Agriculture is still the way to go in this period of economic recession. The government will do all it can to invest in this partnership not for we the officials but for the benefits of all Imo citizens”.
The Governor also disclosed that the partnership would not only be in agriculture but also education.
Highlighting that Imo State is known for educational development and that the state has well qualified teachers, he said the state government would partner with Kebbi State government in training thousands of their teachers.
Apart from the presence of the executive members of the Imo State government, in attendance at the meeting was also the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress led by Comrade Austin Chilakpu. They all met with the Kebbi State government’s delegates led by Mr Saidu Argungu.
Kebbi State has been a success story in agriculture, especially rice production and Imo State is looking to adopt the Kebbi State template to join the list of states producing rice in large quantity in Nigeria.
Mr Argungu had earlier told the gathering that he had inspected most of the communities across Imo state where rice production could be more viable. He said: “Imo state has all it takes to be one of the state in Africa that will become the largest producer of rice if the state government can invest in it and take farming and agriculture more seriously as the benefits and proceeds cannot be overemphasised”.
“The agricultural potential, especially in rice production, I see in Imo State since the last two days that I have been touring most of the communities is enormous.
“It is even more than the oil you have. If the government pays more attention to this rice farming, at the end of one year, Imo may be the largest exporter of rice in West Africa because Imo has water and favourable soil that is not present in other states” Mallam Argungu said.
Residents in Osogbo, the Osun State capital woke up to traffic gridlock and lull in commercial activities as members of the Nigerian Labour Congress and civil society groups under the Joint Action Front (JAF) took to the streets.
Chanting solidarity songs, they protested the increase in the price of petrol in compliance with the directive of the NLC.
The protesters who mounted a roadblock at the Olaiya roundabout which is the major entry route into the town, also sat on the floor making it impossible for motorists to drive in and out of the state capital.
Back at the state secretariat in Abeere, some labour leaders were on standby preventing workers from gaining entrance into the premises.
Banks and other government parastatals were shut, students of public schools were sent back home, while shops and market places in the town were half open for business activities.
While speaking with journalists during the protest, the State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Jacob Adekomi, said that the strike would go on as long as the government refuses to yield to their demands.
He noted that as far as they were concerned in Osun State, the strike has been successful.
The Chairman of ASUU in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Dr. Caleb Aborisade, said, “Throughout Nigeria, we held a special congress yesterday and we have all resolved that this strike is indefinite and is total.
“We have resolved to pursue it until Federal Government listens to our voice. If they refuse to listen, we will not surrender too.”
Both federal and state civil servants in Calabar, the Cross River State capital joined in the nationwide NLC strike protesting the hike in petrol price.
Public schools as well as the state secretariat remained locked.
Labour unions took to major streets of Calabar in a solidarity walk carrying placards with different inscriptions to convey their disapproval over the hike in petrol price and electricity tariff by the Buhari-led administration.
The labour unions are demanding that the President see to it that the nation’s refineries begin to function and salaries of civil servants are increased before government can increase petroleum pump price.
The planned three-day warning strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has perhaps spurred the federal government to provide more explanations on the benefits of the new petroleum price regime.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told media executives and non- governmental organizations at a meeting in Abuja that the palliatives that come with the new price regime would not be misappropriated.
He maintained that the decision to increase petrol price was the only option the government had.
The leadership crisis rocking the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has deepened, with the Joe Ajaero-led faction insisting on the conduct of a fresh election to bring the crisis to an end.
Speaking to reporters in Kaduna, Mr Ajaero described the Hassan Sunmonu-led Reconciliatory Committee as dead on arrival.
His reason was that the committee failed to investigate the actual cause of the crisis before, during and after the National Delegates Conference in March 2015.
Mr Ajero explained that for true reconciliation to take place, the committee should launch a proper investigation into the roles played by the former NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar and other principal actors during the delegates conference.
He added that a situation whereby members from the public sector would want to dominate the leadership of NLC against others was totally unacceptable.
On his part, a former Deputy President of the NLC, and General Secretary of Textile Workers Union, Issa Aremu, called on all affiliate unions to implement the resolution of the reconciliation committee aimed at resolving all contentious issues.
The delay in resolving the crisis, will affect the zeal to fight, defend and promote workers’ rights, critics have warned.
The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has advised the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress to shelve their demand for 56,000 Naira as a new minimum wage saying salary increase has not really helped the situation of the average Nigerian worker.
Addressing a congregation of Anglicans in Abuja, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria and Bishop of Abuja, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh said that the agitation for salary increase can only be done when there is an improvement in the nation’s economy.
He also advised the federal government to urgently address the issue of armed Fulani herdsmen causing havoc in some parts of the country.
He added that it will not augur well for the country if various communities are allowed to resort to self-help.