The organised labour yesterday threatened to paralyze the nation’s economy if the Federal Government should go ahead with the planned hike on the electricity tariff.
The organised labour was of the belief that such planned increment would lead to the closure of factories as well as unprecedented unemployment.
National President of Non-Academic Staff Union Of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Comrade Chris Ani who warned against the proposed increment of electricity tarrif at the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja, said that “increase in electricity tarrif has contributed significantly to unemployment.”
According to him, “Many of the people seeking jobs today are casualties of companies that have either relocated out of Nigeria or outrightly closed shops as a result of higher electricity tarrif or its twin brother, epileptic power supply.”
NASU also issued December, 2017 deadline to Federal Government to conclude the negotiation on the new national minimum wage.
The Union vowed that the Union will resist any policy initiated at both federal and state levels to disengage any NASU members,just as he decried the spate of unemployment in the country.
Comrade Ani called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to mobilize all its affiliates across the country in the bid to press home the demand for improved welfare for Nigerian workers.
He said, “Federal Government has up to this moment refused to show good faith in its dealings with workers on the issue of Minimum Wage. Workers are under the burden of a slave wage, which cannot meet their daily needs. They cannot nourish their children and cannot educate them because the ruling class is bent on the commercialisation of education.
“NASU therefore calls on the Federal Government to give mandate to the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage so that they can start work immediately and finish before the end of the year failing which NASU calls on the NLC to mobilise workers to demand for the Minimum Wage,” he urged.
On the alleged diversion of Paris Club fund given to all the State Governments to offset backlog of workers’ salaries and allowances, the Union called on President Buhari and anti-graft agencies to probe the call d diversion of the multi-billion naira allocated to them over the past two years.
He said, “It is most disheartening to note that despite all the support extended to State Governments by the Federal Government in the form of: bailout fund; first tranche of Paris Club refund and second tranche of Paris Club refund, many of the State Governments are still owing salaries as well as gratuities and pensions.
“There was a time that President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed shock that about 27 State Governments were unable to fulfill their statutory obligation to the workers. In fact, a few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed disappointment with the way State Governments misapplied the refunds of the Paris Club made to them.
“We have also read of how some State Governments were said to be under investigation by the EFCC for the way the Paris Club refund was misapplied. This shows that some of our State Governments are no longer interested in paying salaries. Maybe they are already accumulating funds for the 2019 election. We urge State Governments that are owing workers salaries to pay the salaries owed the workers.
“We also use this medium to call on the NLC to direct that workers should ensure a total close down of States where salaries are owed for more than 2 months.
“Finally, we urge President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently direct the anti-corruption agencies i.e. EFCC and ICPC to conduct a thorough audit of how State Governments that benefitted from the bailout fund and Paris Club releases expended such money and any State Government found culpable, should be exposed, the relevant Government functionaries prosecuted and the Governor arrested immediately after the completion of his tenure for prosecution by the anti-corruption agencies,” Ani urged.
While frowning at the spate of unemployment in the country, the NASU chieftain who punctured the sincerity of the present administration towards job creation, noted that “the only way to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the society is to grow the economy to a productive economy not an economy that has turned the country into a retail outlet for other countries.”
On the ongoing natiinwide strike declared by NASU in collaboration with National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), he said that the strike will not be suspended until Federal Government meets all its demands.
In response to the ongoing demand for improved funding of education sector, the NASU President who called on the present administration to declare state od emergency in the education, kicked against absymal six percent budgetary allocation to education in the 2017 Appropriation Act.
In the bid to address the challenges bedeviling the sector, he canvassed for allocation of 26 percent of toral annual budget for education in line with UNESCO prescription.
He said, “Worst still is the failure of Government to fulfill the content of its Memorandum of Understanding with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) whereby it promised to release intervention fund of N220 billion per annum for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“Government only released N200 billion intervention fund in 2013 while the releases for 2014 to date remain outstanding. This in itself is another clear indication that our Government is not committed to the funding of education. Even as we hold this meeting, the Federal Government has refused to release its White paper on the report of the Needs Assessment Committee for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“As a result of this refusal by Government, the needed intervention fund which Government should have released to our Polytechnics and Colleges of Education for the refurbishment of decayed infrastructure and procurement of teaching as well as other equipment remain unattended to. We therefore use this medium to call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to accord the education sector its needed priority by declaring emergency in the sector.”
He urged the Federal Government to address various issues raised by workers on shortfall in Personnel Emolument, CONTISS 15 Migration and arrears of promotion are experienced in all the Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and Teaching Hospitals as well as implementation of the 65 years retirement age policy in the bid to ensure industrial harmony in the education sector.
While commending the Federal Government for implementing this policy in all the Federal Polytechnics and Federal Colleges of Education nationwide, we equally like to commend the State Governments of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba that have also implemented this policy. We use this medium to appeal to the following State Governments that are yet to implement the 65 years retirement age policy to do so with a view to motivating the workers for higher productivity. They are Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.