Gov. Jonah David Jang
By Seriki Adinoyi â€¨
Plateau State Government has reiterated its willingness to pay the striking local government workers their October to December salaries only if they suspend the strike and return to work, while negotiation continues with verification and staff audit also be carried out.
Addressing journalists tuesday, the Director-General, Research, Statistics and Documentation, Government House, Jos, Mr. Chris Kwajah, described the threat issued by the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as very unfortunate, adding that it was the threat new dimension in industrial dispute in the country.
Kwajah said if the threat should happen, it would be most unfortunate that such a decision would really be taken by the CWC because he expected it to play a mediatory role in the dispute.
He said: “Outside that, it will be difficult for you to arrive at a kind of consensus that we expect because the leadership of NLC at the national was in Jos. And when they were leaving they said they would get back to the state government. And since then we only got that kind of information that by 20th of this month, there will be a nationwide strike in solidarity. And everybody is really concerned and the only way we are prepared for it is to continue with the ongoing discussion to see how these issues will be resolved.
“But it is quite worrisome and unfortunate: we get to a situation in this country where a nationwide strike will be embarked upon or declared by the national because state ‘A’ is having problems rather than looking at how best you can resolve the situation with respect to the peculiarity of each state.”
He said why they are making the statement is because “when you make a nationwide law and you said every state should implement without looking at the peculiarities of those states, then something is wrong because within the context of fiscal federalism in this country, you know, some states earn N3 billion from the federation account, some states earn N17 billion.
“But in terms of responsibilities to citizens, you expect them to perform at the same level. It is not done. When you go to some countries you discover that there are constitutional provisions made to handle situations. You need situations where policies are made and there are weak states within that federation.
The strong states are meant to support the weak states so that all of them are on the same level of development.”
He lamented that the situation in Nigeria is different where the states are not on the same level of development. “Because in terms of access to wealth, access to resources, they don’t have equal access and that is why a state like Rivers will be too quick and comfortable to pay the minimum wage. But you are concerned less about other states that might not even have power to pay.”
Kwajah submitted that as the country is on the verge of constitution amendment, that issue of unequal access to the nation’s wealth should be addressed, adding that the media have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the country has a constitution that recognises the peculiarities and uniqueness in a way that will help every body have equal sense of belonging as far as the Nigerian state is concerned.
But unfortunately, he contended that the country does not have that kind of regime in terms of equity in the light of the constitutional hiccups being experienced now with respect to access to wealth.
“We will continue to have the kind of developmental challenges we are having.”
He added that in spite of the pending court case, government is still talking with labour as they are still committed to bringing about amicable resolution of the impasse.