- Don: Buhari’s policies worse now than 1984
Senator Iroegbu and Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) monday took a swipe at the federal government’s recent approach on remedying the present economic recession, arguing that such strategies cannot take Nigeria out of the current economic doldrums.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, stated this in Kaduna at the ongoing Harmattan School organised by the union with the theme: ‘Reawakening Working Class Consciousness for Social Transformation in Nigeria’.
He stated that the current approach by government at all levels where workers are denied their pay, pension and emolument cannot lift Nigeria out of recession.
According to him, Nigerian workers could not be held accountable for the nation’s economic woes, given that only the ruling elite pilfered the country’s collective wealth.
While disagreeing with those who cite national minimum wage increment some years back as the cause of the recession, Wabba explained that “workers should not be seen as the problem as they are the solutions. Therefore, the elite must situate this problem within themselves.
“It is the disposable income that keeps the economy moving. For more than two quarters now, the economy has been in recession.
“If you look at the states and all employers of labour, you denied workers their pay; you’ve also denied pensioners their pay and have also denied them their gratuity. If there is no income, you don’t have the disposable income to kick start the economy.”
The NLC president also insisted that the union have not changed its position with regards to the proposed $29 billion sorted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He observed that “we have multinationals which have not remit about $20 billion; some of the funds have been diverted and that’s why we are talking about loan.”
Guest lecturer at the event, Prof. Omotoye Olorode of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, argued that both President Buhari and his present policies are worse and more excruciating now than in 1984 when he first took over power from President Shehu Shagari in a military coup.
He said: “The Nigerian condition today is worse than in 1984 because we have leaders who have abandoned their 1984 positions, and now fully on the ground with the World Bank and the IMF.
“In 1984, up till 1985, one month before Ibrahim Babangida took over, Buhari was already saying they were negotiating with the World Bank on issues such as subsidies, loans, privatisation and fuel subsidies. They are now fully on ground with the same forces.”
Olorode stated that all the properties, including “airlines, power authority (NEPA) were sold in 1984; they are still not working. All the things they wanted to do in 1984 they are doing it now quickly-they want to sell Nigeria, they want to take loan. In fact, we have now is worse than the Buhari we had 1984.
“In 1984, they cancelled feeding for our children in the universities, and it was this same Buhari who cancelled it. They sold all the cafeterias; they sacked 10,000 cafeteria workers in ABU, OAU Ife, UNN Nsukka, Lagos and Ibadan. 800 were sacked in OUA Ife alone.”
NLC Head of Information, Ben Upah, urged the workers to remain united and committed to the goals of the union, as it would confront several challenges presently.
Upah maintained that without commitment and unity, organised labour would not be able to put up a common front on many issues.